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“Sometimes just to admire, because I will never get there,” he said, laughing.
Isner connected on 74 percent of his first serves, although Djokovic actually won 11 more points than he did in the match. The Serb had little success lobbing to keep Isner off the net as the big guy put away smashes with confidence.
“It’s a lot of pressure knowing that somebody serves that well. You need to win your service points, especially when you get to the tiebreak,” Djokovic said. “But this time I was unlucky. He didn’t wait for it, he went for it.”
Isner’s height and power had him tabbed as a future American star since he turned pro in 2007, but success has come in fits and starts. He reached his current — and best — career ranking of 11th just last month.
“I knew going into this year that I had the tools and I had the game to be able to at least compete with these guys. I take the court no matter who I’m playing expecting to win and believing to win,” Isner said.
There was a win over Andy Roddick at the 2009 U.S. Open, but casual fans may know Isner best for a marathon win over Nicolas Mahut at Wimbledon in 2010. They played the longest ever pro match, stretching 11 hours and 5 minutes over three days.
“I’ve just kept on surprising myself after each year. When I reached the top 50 in the world, that’s actually when I actually did believe I could crack the top 10,” he said. “I’ve always been a late bloomer.”
Djokovic, the defending champion, fell to 14-2 this season, having lost to Andy Murray in Dubai earlier this month.
By Emily Miller
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