Novak Djokovic woke up Friday morning, three wins away from becoming the first men's singles player to complete the Career Golden Masters by winning all nine ATP Masters 1000 titles. When he goes to bed Friday night, visions of John Isner dialing up those monstrous first serves will dance in his head.
The 28-year-old American upset top-seeded Djokovic in the W&S quarterfinals today, his second career win over the Serb. Isner called it one of his greatest memories as a tennis player.
"It was a fantastic win for me," he said after the match.
For Djokovic, the post-match feelings were quite different, as one would imagine. This is a tournament he wanted to win badly, knowing it is the one title he lacks from completing the Career Golden Masters. It was evident in the press conference that Djokovic was extremely upset with himself for letting this one slip away.
"I just played a very bad match overall," he said. "Terrible match. From beginning to end, except the start of the second set, I was just a different player totally."
Djokovic, a runner-up here a year ago, doesn't believe the loss will affect his preparation for the Open. The disappointment in Cincinnati will eventually wear off and he'll move on. "It's just a sport," he reminded reporters.
Isner, on the other hand, is all smiles and will find himself back in the top 20 where Americans were absent this week for the first time in the history of the rankings. He'll go head-to-head in the W&S semifinals with Juan Martin Del Potro, a familiar opponent with a similar playing style he saw earlier this month. Del Potro defeated him 3-6, 6-1, 6-2 in the finals of the Citi Open in Washington D.C. on August 3. Isner said he feels a little fresher this time around -- he was coming off back-to-back events heading into D.C. -- and he's looking to ride the momentum from Friday's win.
Not to be ignored from the match, the crowd at Center Court was electric in favor of the American. Playing in the States has been good to Isner all year and that couldn't have been any more apparent than it was against Djokovic. He said his record in the U.S. compared to outside the country is "shockingly different."
So, please, stand beside him and guide him again tomorrow, Cincinnati.
God bless America. And God bless John Isner.