THE TRANSATLANTIC MAGAZINE
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John Isner Hits Tennis Heights
The American star will compete at the O2 Arena this week for the 2018 Nitto ATP Tour Finals
Hi John, many thanks for talking to us ahead of the Nitto ATP World Tour Finals. Our traditional opening question, where in the States are you from?
I am from North Carolina.
You've just been announced to be taking part in this year's Tour Finals - it's the first time you'll be playing in the season finales, how does it feel?
To be playing in my first Nitto ATP Finals, it's amazing. It's an event that every player sets their sights on. For me to make it for the first time, here in 2018 after being pro for 11 years is pretty special.
You've had a really positive 2018, including beating fellow tour finalist Alexander Zverev in the final of the Miami Open. How do you assess your season?
I think I've had a very good season. I've had three really good results, that's winning Miami, the semis at Wimbledon and the quarters of the US Open. With those three tournaments, I've been able to, I guess, keep my ranking high. Having big tournaments, it's really what it's all about and I've been able to do that three times.
London will remember you for your very long matches in Wimbledon, both the epic 2010 match against Mahut and this year against Kevin Anderson. Are you pleased to know the ATP Tour Finals has a tie break final!?
That's a good question! Yes I am pleased to know that the ATP Tour has a final set tie break. Hopefully I can get in a situation where I am in a final set tie break, because that'd be a good spot to be in for me. I'm playing against the best players in the world, so we'll see what happens.
When you're in the UK, particularly London, are there places you like to go or things you like to do?
Yes, of course, I've been to London so many times. I love going to all the traditional sights. One thing I've never done is actually the London Eye, and considering I can see it from my room, that's something that my family and I are gonna be doing.
You also recently became a father for the first time - congratulations! How are you finding the balancing act between sport and family life?
I think the balance between sports and family life is, for me, it's been a pretty, I guess, easy transition. I know I wake up in the morning and my first priority is making sure my daughter's doing great, and diaper's changed, of course. My wife does most of that work but I try to chip in as much as I possibly can. It's amazing, but I also know at the same time that I have a job to do, and that means I gotta go out there and practice and go to the gym. But it could be a lot worse, I have it very good right now.
What motivates you, both in life and in sport?
I think what motivates me in sport is just realizing, I've said this a bunch, realizing how lucky I am to play a sport for a living. I'm one of the very few that get to do that, and I want to do it for as long as I possibly can, so what keeps me going there is just the love for the sport, and wanting to play this sport for a long time. So that's why I get up in the morning and work hard everyday.
What are you plans / aims for 2019?
Plans, aims for 2019, that's something I haven't sat down and talked about yet with my team. So as far as professionally goes, well that's something that we will sit down and discuss once this tournament is over.
Finally, what's the best thing about being John Isner?
I guess the best thing about being John Isner, I guess I can go back to two questions ago, I get to play a sport for a living, I play tennis, I play a game as my job. It takes me all over the world, to some of the most beautiful places in the world, so I think everything that I've got, that I've had the chance to experience throughout my career on the Pro Tour has been amazing.
You can catch John Isner in action at the O2 Arena for this week's Nitto ATP Tour Finals alongside other star players including Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer. Tickets are available from www.nittoatpfinals.com, whilst matches will also be broadcast on BBC One and on Sky Sports, see www.nittoatpfinals.com/en/tv-schedule for timings.