John Isner: A New American Hero

Isner totaled 144 aces and hit 70.4 percent of first serves during the ATP Washington Classic.<br><b>Matthew Stockman/Getty</b>

John Isner's unprecedented dream run of five consecutive third-set tie-breaker triumphs to reach an ATP final after only one prior tour match has sparked talk of a resurgence in American tennis.??

The 6-foot-9, 22-year-old serve smasher powered into the ATP Washington Classic final before US top seed Andy Roddick ended the fairy tale 6-4, 7-6 (7/4). Isner fired 144 aces and hit 70.4 percent of first serves on the week.??

"With that serve, he's going to have a chance in every match he plays," said Roddick. "The guy is going to have a hard time not winning matches. It's going to be hard for him not to have a good career.??

"It's just nice to have new American faces. We're doing pretty good for a country that is supposedly in a tennis crisis."??

Isner could be the miracle man that US fans have been seeking after a slide following a rich era with such retired stars as Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi, Michael Chang and Jim Courier.??

"If I can it would be pretty special," Isner said. "There are a bunch of my peers that are high in the rankings. We're looking for the next high US player.??

"It's up to me to keep on improving, get my returns better, keep the good results going."??

Isner's next dream is to face Swiss world number one Roger Federer, one that could come true at the US Open if Isner receives a wild card into the year's final Grand Slam event at Flushing Meadows.??

"It looks pretty good," Isner said of his chances. "If I did get that opportunity, it would be amazing."??

Isner could see Federer sooner than he thinks after receiving a wild card into next week's Cincinnati Masters event.??

"It would be cool to draw him first round, but I'd rather not," Isner said. "I would like to give it a shot against Roger. It would be a pretty cool thing to play him. I think he would embarass me."??

Isner inflicted some embarassment of his own, ousting Britain's Tim Henman, German eighth seed Benjamin Becker, US qualifier Wayne Odesnik, German second seed Tommy Haas and Frenchman Gael Monfils in third set tie-breakers last week.??

"I still don't know how I managed to pull out five tie-breakers in a row," Isner said. "Any one would be successful, let alone five.??

"(Just) a good showing against Tim Henman I would have been proud of. I pulled that out and it just snowballed."??

Monfils said Isner, who jumped into the top 200 from 416th in the rankings, could reach the top on his serve alone.??

"I never really thought about it like that," Isner said. "I guess my serve is up there with all the ATP pros."??

Isner went into the US college ranks instead of the junior circuit, staying for a senior year to lead Georgia to a US team title. He still has 12 hours to finish a communications degree but has already sent rivals a message--beware.??

"I wasn't strong enough, good enough or mature enough to play professionally right away. College was the right choice," Isner said. "I think I made a pretty smart move. I thought I could get a scholarship, go somewhere in tennis."??

Roddick is anxious to see where Isner goes from here.??

"I'm going to be really interested to see how he follows this up," Roddick said. "I'm intrigued and excited. I told him this is the start. I told him at the net to keep going, don't be satisfied."

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