John Isner: Dimitrov was more decisive in the big moments

John Isner gave it his all, but he could not get the job done in a pair of tiebreaks and was sent packing in the semifinals of Cincinnati. After the match, the big American reflected on what went wrong.

John Isner: Dimitrov was more decisive in the big moments
John Isner hits a forehand during his semifinal loss to Grigor Dimitrov in Cincinnati. Photo: Rob Carr/Getty Images

John Isner fell just a couple of points short of reaching a second Western and Southern Open final on Saturday, falling in the semifinals in two tiebreaks to Grigor Dimitrov. It was a tough loss for Isner to swallow, as only a few points made the difference. After the match, Isner expressed his disappointment, while giving lots of credit to his opponent.

Dimitrov did everything right

Isner did not really blame himself for the defeat, more giving the credit to his opponent. According to Isner, “I think the difference was he was a bit more decisive in the big moments. Maybe a little calmer, as well. Sometimes you take the court, and everything is going well and you're not thinking too much out there and things are free flowing. At times that was the case out there for me, but at times maybe it wasn't. And I think that cost me a little bit. I just think he was, as I said, a little more decisive and a little more free flowing, I think, in the big moments, and of course in a match like that, separated by a few points here or there, that was the case. So credit to him.

Isner (right) and Grigor Dimitrov shake hands after their semifinal battle. Photo: Rob Carr/Getty Images
Isner (right) and Grigor Dimitrov shake hands after their semifinal battle. Photo: Rob Carr/Getty Images

Three times in the second set tiebreak, Isner was a point away from forcing a decider. But the American was not blaming himself too much for the missed opportunities, saying, “I played some pretty good points. He defended really well. I mean, I hit two of the hardest forehands that I have ever hit in my life that he was able to get back. That's what he does. He's an incredible defender and an incredible shot maker. It's really not that surprising. But it would have been nice to have won that second set. You know, he played well so he came up with the goods.

It was all credit to Dimitrov however. Isner did admit that “It wasn't that I wasn't focused. You know, I was maybe a little bit tentative. That's a bad thing in tennis. In all sports, really. You have tension in your body, and it's tough to let go a little bit. So there were times in that match today where, you know, there were some kind of big moments where I wasn't able to let go. There's really no secret sauce to getting rid of that tension in your body. Could be a total pain in the ass sometimes. Look, it wasn't the whole match. I just think, as I said earlier, I think maybe that's what cost me a little bit. I can't speak for him, and maybe he wasn't feeling that maybe as much as I was.

Moving on

On a happier note, Isner was asked what went well this week in Cincinnati. The American number one said, “I think the biggest positive is I think, for the most part, I did all the right things in the pretty big moments. I felt like throughout this week I played my break points pretty well. I did, in the first set, I played -- you know, I had two essentially set points at 15-40, whatever it was, and I played two good points. He just played two better points. I think I stepped up this week, which is what I was doing prior to this week, as well, and that's just sort of going for my shots. I mean, there are some times when I didn't, but all in all, I think I just gotta keep that up. It's the only way I can play.

Isner lunges for a backhand during his semifinal loss. Photo: Rob Carr/Getty Images
Isner lunges for a backhand during his semifinal loss. Photo: Rob Carr/Getty Images

As for the upcoming US Open, he believes that “I have a good team, got a great coach and great person to keep me healthy, so just keep working on the right things and I should be in pretty good shape heading into that tournament.”

When asked if he thinks that he is one of the favourites in New York, he said with a laugh, “I don't think I am at all. Definitely not. I mean, look, I know if I play well and I know what I'm capable of, I know how I can disrupt some players, but I haven't earned that at all, that station to be one of the favorites of the US Open. So I don't think so at all.”