Defending Champion John Isner is Back in Miami Open Final
All photos by Chad Lominick
(March 29, 2019) MIAMI, FL – The defending Miami Open champion, John Isner is back in the final. The 34-year-old American hit 21 aces past 18-year-old Canadian qualifier Felix Auger-Aliassime 7-6 (3), 7-6 (4). The world No. 9 had to come back from breaks in both sets to win the match.
Auger-Aliassime is the youngest man to reach the semifinals in Miami Open history.
“The venue is absolutely fantastic,” said big football fan Isner, an admitted Carolina Panthers fan. “To play in the stadium, the Super Bowl will be here next year, it’s pretty amazing,” he said in his on-court interview after the match.
From 1985-2018, the tournament was held in Crandon Park, in Key Biscayne, it’s now in Hard Rock Stadium where the Miami Dolphins play.
“It’s amazing,” Isner contined on court “I said before the tournament the chances were I would not defend my title. I’m very, very happy.”
Auger-Aliassime served for first set at 5-4 and the second at 5-3 and could not close either set. He double-faulted three times serving for the first set.
“Nerves,” he said to media. “It’s like I caught a virus or something. I don’t know.”
“I think I did the best that I could,” said the Canadian team. “I probably did the best of all the players that played him this week. I just couldn’t serve from my part.
“It’s a chance you can’t miss, serving two times for the set, and just — I don’t know. It’s just terrible.”
“Maybe he was a little bit fatigued, also, which is not an experience thing, because he came through qualifying,” said Isner. “So prior to this match he had played three more matches than I have. So could have been a little bit of inexperience and maybe a little bit of fatigue, also.”
It’s been a career week for the Canadian who needed to qualify for the tournament.
“Starting from quallies, not being sure how far to go,” he told reporters. “The biggest lesson was to stay in the present and believe in yourself, because, you know, you can always dig deep and find resources within yourself. So I think that’s a huge lesson to not give up, stay calm, and just work every day.”
What’s next for the Canadian teen? “Now I’m going home for some rest. Then I will start training for the clay season. Start in Monte-Carlo and — yeah, obviously my goals and my expectations, maybe not my expectations, but I’m aiming high. I want to play well for the rest of the year, but again, just focus on the daily work. We’ll see what I can do.”
The Canadian qualifier began 2019 ranked 108th in the world, he’ll be No. 33 as of Monday.
Isner will play the winner of the Roger Federer-Denis Shapovalov.
As for a possible final against Federer, Isner said: “That would be awesome for me. Any time you play against him would be, in a big stage, a tournament like this, would be amazing.
“I played him in the finals of Indian Wells about seven years ago, I think. He beat me there. It would be really cool to play against him. I’m not rooting for anyone tonight. It’s going to be tough either way. But certainly playing Roger would be a very big moment.
About playing another Canadian teen, Shapovalov Isner said: “Well, I would, as I said, it would be very tough because he’s a very good player. We all know what he does well. He’s very athletic, and he’s lefty, which is pretty tricky, also. I think if I were to play against him, he would certainly be ready for that moment.
“I think he’s a kid that’s built for big stages. You know, if he doesn’t get to the finals this tournament on Sunday, he’ll have a lot more chances to get to big finals in his career.”