Winston-Salem Open
7:36 am
Wed August 20, 2014

Isner over Klahn at WS Open

  The highest ranked American tennis player in the world returned to center court at the Winston-Salem Open last night. The expectations were high for the two-time champion.  

John Isner signs autographs at the Winston-Salem Open
John Isner signs autographs at the Winston-Salem Open
Credit David Ford

At the entrance gate of the Wake Forest University Tennis Center, the weather conditions were close to perfect. The afternoon rains had passed, temperatures hovered near 80 degrees, and there was just a slight breeze in the air. The lingering humidity certainly didn’t seem to faze the tennis fans who flocked from all across the state to see Greensboro native and world number 15 John Isner compete in his first match at the 2014 Winston-Salem Open.

Fan optimism ahead of the match was well warranted. Isner who won the inaugural Winston-Salem Open in 2011, and then repeated in 2012, but the 48 player field at this year’s Winston-Salem Open features more than 30 of the top 100 players in the world. Each one of them hopes to enter next week’s U.S. Open in New York with a win here and the jolt of momentum that comes with that success.

Last night Isner faced a tough opponent in Stanford University’s former NCAA champion and current world number 116 Bradley Klahn. In the early stages of the match Isner appeared to be in desperate need of a jolt.  In what has become a familiar pattern for the 6” 10” former Georgia Bulldog, he began with slow, seemingly lethargic movement, and little accuracy from his backhand or his typically dominating forehand.

Isner’s booming serve—one of the fastest on the ATP tour—while not as consistent as usual, kept him alive in the first set, and eventually propelled him to a very familiar tie break. During the first to seven points tie break, with speeds up to 138mph, Isner’s blistering serve eventually wore down Klahn. After trading mini-breaks the tie break ended 7-5, first set, Isner.

With one set in his pocket, Isner began the second set visibly more relaxed, and it was quickly evident in the improved level of his play. After breaking Klahn at love in the first game, Isner began finding his rhythm on his groundstrokes, and the thunderous sound of 130mph aces slamming against the stadium wall immediately behind his opponent became more and more frequent.

In the end it was another familiar scene at the Winston-Salem Open, and Isner victory, and thunderous applause from his hometown fans. It was Isner 7-6, 6-2, and in the press conference following the match he once again credited those fans for his success.

Wednesday John Isner, the number 1 seed in the Winston-Salem Open  faces off against Russian Mikail Kukushkin who is currently ranked number 50 in the ATP rankings.