John Isner was in exceptional form before losing to Roger Federer in this year's Miami Open final. He was flying high at Miami, reaching the championship match in South Florida without dropping a set.
The 2018 Miami Open champion lost his unbeaten streak when he lost the first set against Federer in the 2019 final. It was at that instance when his left foot started aching. The American finished the match but was clearly in pain. On his return, he found out that he has a stress fracture in his left foot and will have to be sidelined for three to six weeks.
The good news for Isner is that he is hoping to return for the Mutua Madrid Open, an ATP Masters 1000 tournament that begins on May 3. The 33-year-old would want to maintain the confidence that he built in the past with 15 wins in the last 20 outings.
Isner’s 15-7 start in 2019 is his best start ahead of the clay-court season since 2012 when he went 15-6.
“I consider myself very fortunate. I could have hurt myself in my second match and had to have probably lost that match or pulled out of the tournament. There was just one match to go and of course, I was thrilled to be in the final. I wanted to put on a little bit of a better show out there but I was also up against the greatest player of all-time,” Isner told in a recent interaction with ATP.
The World No. 10 doesn’t know exactly when the injury occurred. But it was extremely painful, and while he battled to the best of his ability, he knew there was not much he could do against Federer.
“It was just any time I put weight on my left foot. Serving puts a lot of weight on my left foot, that’s my predominant leg when I’m serving. Any other movement that required any sort of push off my left leg was pretty excruciating,” said Isner.
“It was a tough, tough feeling because there’s nothing you could do. There’s no hiding it out there. You can’t play through that pain, either. You’re stuck out there. It’s a pretty miserable feeling,” he added.
The 2018 ATP Finals qualifier said that the toughest part of the situation is how immobile he has to stay. Even if his foot is 100 per cent ready, until he is not in satisfactory ‘tennis shape’, he’s not going to rush back to compete in Madrid. He plans on taking his time so that he is completely over the injury before playing again.
Isner was looking forward to competing at the Fayez Sarofim & Co. US Men’s Clay Court Championship next week in Houston, as he could drive from his home to the event. But it is likely that he won’t be able to practice so he made the tough call of withdrawing from the event.
“I’m absolutely bummed to be missing Houston considering it’s a tournament I can drive to and a tournament I’ve never missed in my whole career. I played it (for)12 years in a row. This year I’m going to miss it and that’s pretty tough to swallow because I really enjoy playing there,” said Isner.
Isner is focusing on the rest period and is channelising his energies to get back on the court as he has his sights on Madrid and beyond.