March 3, 2013 by Parveer Mann
On most weeks when there is not a Grand Slam or one of the exclusive Masters Series events, the ATP holds multiple tournaments. They usually take place on different continents or playing surfaces and vary in size and prize money. A player’s decision to play in one tournament over the other can come down to simple geography, surface style or sponsor affiliation. So with better fields in Dubai and Acapulco this week, we found American No.1 John Isner playing in the smallest tournament of the week in Delray Beach looking to find something that has eluded him lately: Wins.
The beginning to John Isner’s 2013 season has been full of disappointment. After beginning poorly in Sydney, he had to pull out of the Australian Open this year with bruising in his right knee. Isner was quick to point out that move was a precaution and would not keep him out for long. Upon his return in San Jose, he has had to work through some more knee discomfort and his less than stellar results have shown that. In the past, he would have time to work through it and no one would notice but his title as the highest ranked American has magnified his early season failures.
Pressure of being American No. 1
There is such a rich history in American men’s tennis that traditionally it has mattered who was the best of the best. It generally meant that player was the best in the world or near the top. However, since Andy Roddick ceded the role a couple of years ago, there has been a void at the top.
Both Mardy Fish and Isner have had runs in the Top 10 but for one reason or another have not taken the next step. Fish has been plagued with health issues and the big-serving Isner has not been able to put together results when it matters the most. It could be a combination of the superb competition or lack of other skills that has held Isner back and seen him drop to World number 15 this week. One thing may be clear is that we may be watching a player who has reached his peak and that his window for greatness may have closed.
On to Indian Wells
The disappointment continued this week in Delray Beach; the top-ranked Isner was upset by Edouard Rogers-Vasselin, a player outside the top 100. He now moves on to Indian Wells where he is a defending finalist, arguably his best performance in a traditionally deep field. We will see whether Indian Wells will help Isner right the ship or if questions will still surround John for most of the year.
Highlights of the Tennis Weekend:
Familiar faces and champions, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal won in Dubai and Acapulco respectively. However, I’d like to highlight Karolina Pliskova and Monica Niculescu who won their first WTA titles this week. Here’s to more success ladies!