Coming into this year's installment of Wimbledon, John Isner has a chance to give some good opponents a scare. Isner has certainly had some mixed results on grass, but his monster serve will give the man opposite the net some nightmares for a long time. While his most famous match -- the one that set the record for longest match ever -- passed six years ago, the 31-year-old is still young enough to make a strong push and surprise a lot of people.
Notable results to date
2016 has been comparetively poor for Isner -- assuming the Grand Slams are ignored. He has yet to make a final of any of the eight Masters events he's entered, and his only semifinal appearance came in the Fayez Sarofim & Co US Men's Clay Court Championship in Houston, Texas. To make things worse, that event was only a Masters 250, and it took him a total of three tiebreaks to defeat Denis Kudla (7-6, 7-6) and Hyeon Chung (7-6, 6-4)--neither of whom were in the top 55 in the world.
However, when it comes to the last three Majors, Isner has showed up; he's made the Round of 16 in all three of them. In the 2016 Australian Open, the American passed Jerzy Janowicz before drawing three straight Spaniards; getting through Marcel Granollers and Feliciano Lopez wasn't a problem -- only one set was lost in the process -- but the third time was the charm as David Ferrer beat him in straight sets, 6-4, 6-4, 7-5.
Roland Garros was a much trickier road to the fourth round. Clay, a slower surface, neutralizes big servers' advantage. The world number 17 squeaked past John Millman behind three tiebreaks before taking out Kyle Edmund in straight sets and Teymuraz Gabashvili in a five-setter. Once again, the bus stopped at the Round of 16 when Andy Murray ended Isner's clay court season, 7-6(9), 6-4, 6-3.
Best grass results leading into Wimbledon
With only two grass-court matches under his belt, Isner will likely use the first few matches of Wimbledon to get some momentum. The 31-year-old's only prior tournament was the Aegon Championships in London, England. His first match against Juan Martin del Potro saw the American fire off 25 aces in a 7-6(2), 6-4 victory; it also came with a blunder, or two.
After those minor slip ups (pun not intended), Isner was dispatched by Gilles Muller in a thrilling three sets, 6-3, 7-6(16), 7-6(7), in the second round. Despite the loss, a very nice total of 69 aces were fired off--43 of which came from the 6'10" American.
Best result in Wimbledon
In seven tries, Isner has never passed the third round of Wimbledon. His two third round appearances came in 2014 and 2015 with the former ending on a loss to Marin Cilic; the latter, a loss to Lopez. In fact, the last time Isner beat an opponent ranked higher than him in Wimbledon was in 2011 when he (ranked 47) beat Nicolas Almagro (ranked 15).
Nonetheless, the American still holds a nearly-unbeatable record. In 2010, Isner defeated Nicolas Mahut in a match spanning three days, lasting 11 hours, five minutes--the longest match in history. The final score of the match was an astonishing 6–4, 3–6, 6(9)–7, 7–6(3), 70–68, for a grand total of 183 games played (also a record). Some fun stats from that match include 113 aces for Isner, while Mahut only saw three break points in 90 return games.
How Isner's game translates to the surface
Generally, big servers are dominant grass court players, but that hasn't exactly been the case for Isner. While his rocket serve, coming from his 6'10" frame gets him easy points, the world number 17 lacks the mobility to get the ever-crucial breaks. It also doesn't help that he's getting older. However, Isner is a really tough player to break--hence why a lot of his matches go to tiebreaks.
If he's feeling his groundstrokes, though, the American could potentially make a deep run. All it takes is one hot tournament of big serves and big hitting to win a lot of matches. Just ask Cilic, the 2014 US Open Champion.