Originally posted on Fox Sports Ohio  |  By KEVIN GOHEEN  |  Last updated 8/16/13
MASON, Ohio John Isner doesnt have any delusions of grandeur when it comes to his tennis game. He knows who he is. He knows when he plays the Novak Djokovics of the ATP tour he cant be ordinary. Simply put, hes a better tennis player than me. He just is. His record proves that, said Isner. But on any given day, I think I can beat anyone. Friday was such a day for Isner. The American earned his way into the semifinals of the Western & Southern Open by beating top-ranked Djokovic 7-6 (5), 3-6, 7-5. Djokovic was up 40-15, one point away from sending the third set to a tiebreaker before Isner rallied to win the game and the match for his second career victory against a No. 1-ranked player. Djokovic helped matters with five double faults, including one in that final game, but Isner got 74 percent of his first serves into play, winning 55 of 69 possible points off those first serves, and limited Djokovic to just four break point opportunities. Isner missed nine previous break point chances against Djokovic but got the only one that mattered on his 10th try when Djokovic hit a return into the net to end the match. I had a lot of looks and I felt like I was playing well, very well outside of a few stretches where I didnt put any returns in the court, said Isner. For the most part, I was putting the ball on the court and I was feeling good off the baseline. I felt like, when I had a chance, I played aggressively, and I did that well. I think I was able to put a little bit of pressure on him. It didnt really pay off until the very end, but little things like me running around on second serves and hitting big forehands. Isner has been ranked as high as No. 9 in the world, which came last year after beating Djokovic at Indian Wells. Thats the only other time he has beaten a top-ranked player in six opportunities. Isner is the highest ranked American at No. 22 and is one of just five Americans ranked in the top 100 of the world. This week is the first time in the history of the ATP rankings there is no American in the top 20. That will change with Isners results here this week he was already guaranteed to move up to No. 19 before Fridays win but it isnt a stat he concentrates on much. Since retiring from Wimbledon with a left knee injury, Isner has gone 15-3. This is the fourth time in his last five tournaments he has at least reached the semifinals, including winning at Atlanta last month. I knew coming in here this week that I was playing well; I knew there was a shot that I could do well here, said Isner. I did fall out of the top 20, but I think the rest of this year and the beginning of next year theres a lot of room for me to keep gaining ground. I want to get back in the top 10 and I want to stay there for longer than I did last year. Isners serve is his strength. It always has been and whenever hes successful its at the heart of that success. It was improvement in those other areas of the game that got him the win Friday. It was his third straight win this week over a player ranked ahead of him; he beat No. 11 Richard Gasquet on Wednesday and No. 10 Milos Raonic on Thursday. Well, he was there, so that means hes capable, said Djokovic of Isner returning to the top 10. But one tournament, two tournaments dont change anything. He has to be consistent and be successful in order to stay there. Isner will face Argentine Juan Martin del Potro, ranked No. 7, in Saturdays semifinals, a rematch of the finals from Washington two weeks ago when del Potro beat Isner 3-6, 6-1, 6-2. Hes so good, you guys know that, said Isner. I hope I can just do a few things differently. I feel like Im a bit fresher now than I was then, as I was coming off back-to-back events (Atlanta), but he was certainly the better player. Just as today, Im going to have to play very well if I want to win.
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Chris Paul nutmegs Milos Teodosic with slick dribbles

Carmelo Anthony is ‘done with the refs’ after Russell Westbrook’s ejection

Warriors stuck without hot water in locker room after beating Cavs

Magic rookie invited teammates to his first sermon, but none showed up

Magic could be sellers, Mirotic eligible to be traded, Jabari Parker closer to return

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Brewers' Nelson rehabbing 'ahead of schedule', Cardinals' Molina retiring after '20?

Broncos considering WR options, Seahawks on Schottenheimer skeptics

Spagnuolo could stay with Giants, Dallas and Cincy swap assistants

Dave Joerger plans to sit veterans, go younger

Chris Paul receives tribute video in return vs Clippers

Russell Westbrook ejected from game for arguing with official

The 'It's a walk-off!" quiz

Best performances in the history of NFL Conference Championship games

Top takeaways from the NFL Divisional round

Sports & Politics Intersect: After all the bluster, college football sticks to sports

2018 NFL Mock Draft

Who stands to benefit the most from the slow MLB offseason?

Sabres look to be biggest sellers ahead of NHL trade deadline

Top impact MLB free agents still looking for work

Is Andrew Wiggins finally turning the corner?

Jayson Tatum is making a living in the clutch

The 'Home field disadvantage' quiz

NHL Weekender: Bruins, Flames, Jets are taking flight

Tennis News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Yardbarker Privacy Policy and Terms of Service. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.

The 'It's a walk-off!" quiz

Best performances in the history of NFL Conference Championship games

Sports & Politics Intersect: After all the bluster, college football sticks to sports

The 'Home field disadvantage' quiz

NHL Weekender: Bruins, Flames, Jets are taking flight

Sabres look to be biggest sellers ahead of NHL trade deadline

The 'How much ya bench?' quiz

Who stands to benefit the most from the slow MLB offseason?

Jayson Tatum is making a living in the clutch

The 'Quite the catch' quiz

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker