By Joe McGovern
HOUSTON – It was a championship match between two buddies in Houston as Juan Monaco persevered over John Isner, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 to win his first title ever on American soil and his fifth overall.Â It was a particularly sweet day for the two tour friends, who have bonded over their love for American football.Â Isner, despite his loss in the US Menâ€™s Clay Court Championship final, has moved into No. 9 in the rankings, positioning him as the number one ranked American, while Monacoâ€™s victory moves him up to No. 14, matching his career best.
â€œIt was a great final, great final,â€ said Monaco. â€œThe third set was like a battle. We both fought until the last point and we both played a really good final.â€
â€œIâ€™m very happy for Pico,â€ said Isner. â€œHeâ€™s had a very good year, and so have I. Weâ€™re both winning a lot of matches this year and he was just a little bit better than me today.â€
Monaco had 15 break point chances on Isnerâ€™s serve during the match, converting three of themâ€”the only breaks the 6â€™9â€ American suffered over the course of his four matches at River Oaks.Â â€œYou can sometimes make the opportunities against Johnny, but itâ€™s very tough to convert them.â€
Monaco departed Houston within an hour of the matchâ€™s conclusion for an overnight flight to Europe.Â He starts play at the Masters series tournament in Monte Carlo on Tuesday, less than 48 hours after his title bout in Texas.
â€œIt sounds absolutely miserable,â€ said Isner of Monacoâ€™s itinerary. â€œBut thatâ€™s the life of a tennis player and sometimes you just have to do it.â€