John Isner — all six feet, 10 inches of him — has long been known for his imposing on-court presence, his booming serve making him one of the hardest to break on the ATP World Tour. As Roger Federer once noted, “John can hold easy, that we know.”
Bernard Tomic asserted, “It’s a nightmare to play him. He’s probably the best server in the world.”
Observed Andy Murray, “It makes the game a whole lot easier when you can serve like that.”
The 10th seeded American continues to impress with his serve at the Australian Open. On Saturday afternoon in Hisense Arena, Isner amassed 44 aces in a 6-7(8), 7-6(5), 6-2, 6-4 win over No. 18 seed Feliciano Lopez. It marked the sixth time in his career that he had registered more than 40 aces in a single match. He is into round of 16 for the first time since 2010, matching his best Australian Open result. Another big server, Andy Roddick, was the last American man to reach the fourth round here, in 2011.
“It’s a big win,” said Isner. “It’s a very tough opponent, especially for me, the way he plays. He certainly has given me trouble in the past. Also, it’s been a little while since I’ve been in the round of 16 at this tournament. It feels great. I’m very relieved to get through, want to keep on going.”
Incredibly, he now has 101 aces over three matches in Melbourne Park.
And he has yet to face a break point in 54 games.
Isner opened with a 6-3, 7-6(7), 6-3 win over Jerzy Janowicz in the first round, and in the second round defeated Marcel Granollers 6-3, 7-6(6), 7-6(2). Against the 34-year-old Lopez, he fought off four set points but couldn’t save a fifth in the first set tie-break. But the 30-year-old former University of Georgia standout soon worked his way back into the match, landing 77 per cent (96 of 124) of his first serves, and winning 79 per cent (76 of 96) of those points.
Isner hit 52 aces in a losing performance against Lopez in the third round of Wimbledon in 2014. The American holds the world record of 113 aces in one match, set during his 70-68 fifth-set win over Nicolas Mahut at Wimbledon in 2010.
Isner moves on to face No. 8 seed David Ferrer, who like the American didn’t face a break point on Saturday in his one-hour, 44-minute 6-1, 6-4, 6-4 defeat of American Steve Johnson. He is 1-6 against the Spaniard in FedEx ATP Head2Heads.
“I’ve got to play aggressive,” Isner noted. “He’s going to want to get on top of that baseline and move me around all day. He’s not going to get tired. We all know that. I’ve got to go for my shots and try to keep the points shorter. Can’t be having long, drawn-out rallies with him. I’m definitely not going to win the majority of those.”