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Isner difficult to stop on clay, says Nadal


 

Originally published on: 08/05/12 00:00

John Isner has already broken through to the world’s top 10 – and now Rafael Nadal is among those who believe the 6ft 9in American can make further progress.

In the past many critics have seen the big-serving Isner as a one-dimensional player who can thrive only on quicker courts, but in recent weeks he has proved he can also be a threat on clay. Having beaten both Gilles Simon and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga during the United States’ Davis Cup triumph over France in Monte Carlo last month, Isner went on to reach the final of a clay-court tournament in Houston, where he eventually lost to Juan Monaco.

“Isner can play very well on every surface,” Nadal said. “With his serve, everything is easier. If you learn a little bit how to play on the returns and how to move, it’s very difficult to stop a player like that. John has the potential to play very well on every surface. I think his forehand is great. For someone as tall as him, his movements are OK.

“What I have been more surprised about in the last few years is that he was lower in the rankings. I predicted in 2010, when I played against him in Indian Wells, that he would be fighting to win Masters [Series titles], so it was more of a surprise that he didn’t for the past two years.”

Isner reached his first Masters Series final two months ago in Indian Wells, where he beat Novak Djokovic before losing to Roger Federer. That run put him into the world’s top 10 for the first time and he now has the opportunity to keep climbing. Between now and the end of Wimbledon Isner has only 65 world ranking points to defend. He lost in the first round at the French Open last year and went only one round better at Wimbledon.

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