The Tall American

Fresh face: Roger Federer's looming opponent
September 16, 2007

WHO
John Isner, the 22-year-old, 6'9", 236-pound tennis giant from Greensboro,N.C., who turned pro in June, right after leading Georgia to the NCAAtitle.

HE SOUNDSFAMILIAR BECAUSE
After earning a wild card to the U.S. Open, Isner won his first two matches toset up a match with Roger Federer—then he took a set off Federer before losingthe next three.

WHAT MAKES HIM SOTOUGH
His huge serve. Isner fired 18 aces against Federer, the fastest at 140 milesan hour. "It's not so much the speed," said Federer after the match,but rather that "because of his height advantage, the ball is coming downat such a high angle." At the Legg Mason, Isner's second ATP tournament, hehit 144 aces and went to the finals. Tenth-ranked Tommy Haas, whom Isner beatin the Legg Mason quarters, said, semiseriously, "The tour should come upwith a system where if you're over 6'6", you can't play."

IS HE THE TALLESTATP PLAYER EVER?
No. He's edged out by 6'10" Ivo Karlovic of Croatia (a.k.a. Dr. Ivo), whois ranked 30th. "People think we're the same height," says Isner (whois ranked No. 144). "But they measured us in Cincinnati. We stoodback-to-back, and I was a little shorter." Karlovic leads the ATP this yearin aces (886) and percentage of service games won (94%). "People are dyingto see us play each other," said Isner. "That would be one for therecord books."

BEGINNINGS
Isner first picked up a racket at age nine—"Most kids are getting ready forthe juniors around then," he points out—after his older brother Jordanturned him on to the game. Not surprisingly, he also played hoops. "KarlMalone was my idol," says Isner. "There were times when I was 13 or 14and I would have to leave a tennis tournament early to fly across the countryand play in an AAU basketball tourney. Too demanding. I finally gave upbasketball my freshman year of high school. I thought I would fare better witha racket."

NEXT STOP
U.S. Davis Cup captain Patrick McEnroe has invited Isner to be a practicepartner at the Davis Cup semifinal tie against Sweden, later this month."He'll learn a lot practicing with Andy Roddick and James Blake," saidMcEnroe. "And he's certainly a breath of fresh air for Americantennis."

The Pop CultureGrid

How do sports stars fit in? Now that summer is over, I can ... Favorite celeb scanadal of summer Country you probably couldn't find on a map Last DVD you bought Favorite brew Favorite book as a child
BRIAN McCANN Braves C Watch football None Kazakhastan Old School Bud Light Brian's Song
PABLO MASTROENI Rapids MF Ditch my banana hammock Britney's panties Canada. Just kidding One Night in Paris New Belgium's Skinny Dip My dad's magazine stash
CHARLIE FRYE Browns QB Put away my golf clubs K-Fed and Britney Spears Crotia 300 coors Light Green Eggs and Ham
ADAM CRISTMAN Revolution F Try to keep my wife warm Lindsay Lohan Uzbekistan In God's Hands Red Stripe. Hooray, beer! Goodnight Moon
PHOTOCHUCK SOLOMON (ISNER) PHOTODAMIAN STROHMEYER (HUGHES ACTION) PHOTOCHRIS WEEKS/WIREIMAGE.COM (BRITNEY) PHOTOBRIAN SNYDER/REUTERS (CRISTMAN) PHOTOTONY DEJAK/AP (FRYE) PHOTOGARRETT ELLWOOD/WIREIMAGE.COM (MASTROENI) PHOTOKYLE TERADA/US PRESSWIRE (MCCANN) TWO PHOTOS

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)