John Isner's 7-6 7-6 victory over Lu Yen-Hsun in the final of the Heineken Open on Saturday will help him get back towards the top 10, but his performances during the week did little to show that he'll ever challenge for a grand slam or be a top-five player.
The world No 14 served 79 aces over his four matches in Auckland and won five out of the six tiebreaks he played in.
Unashamedly, it's all about the serve for Isner; it's his big weapon and he makes the most of it. But the reason he's so good at serving also holds back the rest of his game; his height.
At 2.08 metres tall he's able to serve bigger than anyone else on tour, but he struggles to get his gangly body around the court and is usually the losing player whenever there's a long rally. However, Isner believes he deserves to have a single-figure ranking.
"I would absolutely love to get back in that top 10," Isner said. "I don't want to just say I was top 10 for a cup of coffee, I want to be there a bit longer and it's up to me to get up there and get to that point."
But former New Zealand Davis Cup player turned tennis commentator Lee Radovanovich believes there's a ceiling to how far Isner can climb. "The flaws in his game won't get him past the top guys," Radovanovich said. "He's too one dimensional while Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer have got everything.
"Those guys will be able to find his weakness."
Lu said his game plan in the final was to run Isner ragged and expose his weaknesses.
"You need to move him, but you can't just push the ball to him because he will be standing inside the court and smash the ball," Lu said.
"So you have to play aggressively, but sometimes you overplay and make mistakes. Against these big serving guys you've always got to find the balance during the rallies, that's what Djokovic and the other top guys do and they have a lot of experience to manage this situation, That's why they're doing better and in the top 10."
Isner kicks off his Australian Open campaign tomorrow against qualifier Martin Klizan from Slovakia. He is on target to play Philipp Kohlschreiber in the third round and, if he wins that match, he's likely to face Andy Murray.
"I haven't performed that well in the slams in the last few years, the best Australian Open I've had [fourth round] was when I won this in 2010," Isner said. "I always want to do very well, but I will go into the tournament with a lot of confidence.."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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