John Isner played through the pain to win in Auckland, but he couldn't bear it in Melbourne. (Robert Prezioso/Getty Images)
MELBOURNE, Australia -- Another year in Australia, another year of bad luck for John Isner. After losing the first two sets 6-2, 7-6 (6) to Martin Klizan, Isner retired from his first-round match at the Australian Open with an ankle injury. This is nothing new for Isner, who last year was forced to skip the Australian Open with a knee injury and retired at Wimbledon a few games into his second-round match.
"I walked off the practice court this morning and I was barely able to even get back to the locker room," Isner told reporters. "It was weird. Iced my foot again just to help with the pain. I was able to loosen it up and get it taped up, and it felt better going out on the court but on the court it didn't feel too good."
Isner's retirement came as a surprise given his triumphant run to the title at the Heineken Open in Auckland, New Zealand three days ago. His victory obscured the severity of the ankle injury; he managed the pain through the tournament, but it got worse over the week's worth of matches.
"I first felt this in the off-season and it got a little bit worse in Perth," Isner told reporters. The injury also forced Isner to withdraw before his final match at the Hopman Cup in Perth, Australia. "It's just my ankle and upper shin area. It's just weird and very painful. I just need time."
Asked whether he should haves skipped Auckland to give himself the extra time to heal, Isner said he wanted to keep his commitment to the tournament and was surprised when he kept winning.
"I told myself I'm going to play my first match and see how it goes and if it doesn't go well then I have time to get it better."
Isner does not believe his ankle injury is as bad as the knee injury that kept him out of the beginning of the season last year.
"I'm chalking this up to something sort of bizarre," he said. "I feel like I will get over it. It doesn't concern me as much as some of the issues I've had in the past."
His focus now turns to Davis Cup, where the Americans are hosting Andy Murray's Great Britain in San Diego in February. If Murray chooses to play the tie the Americans will need their full line-up, which would most likely include Isner, Sam Querrey, and Bob and Mike Bryan.
"Certainly my goal going forward is to be 100 percent fit -- not 95 percent fit -- because Courier's not going to put me out there if I'm not 100 percent fit and I don't blame him. So my goal is Davis Cup right now."