John Isner is the last American man standing in the men’s singles draw at the Australian Open, and that’s because David Ferrer ousted Isner’s countryman–Steve Johnson–during third-round action on Saturday. Thus the stars and stripes are left to be worn by Isner, who will take the court for the eighth time in his career against Ferrer on Monday. The Spaniard is dominating their head-to-head series 6-1. They most recently collided last fall on the indoor hard courts of Paris, where Isner came within one set of finishing the season in the top 10. But Ferrer held him off 6-3, 6-7(6), 6-2 to leave the big guy at No. 11 in the rankings.
Isner, though, looks like a man on the mission to turn in the same kind of effort in 2016. So far this fortnight he has taken out Jerzy Janowicz, Marcel Granollers, and Feliciano Lopez without dropping serve a single time. In fact, Isner has not even faced a break point. He has blasted 101 aces through three rounds after firing 44 past Lopez in a four-set victory in round three.
Ferrer’s tournament has been highlighted by a victory over Lleyton Hewitt that ended the Aussie’s career. The world No. 8 previously trounced Peter Gojowyczk and in the third round he had no trouble whatsoever with Johnson.
This is, of course, a borderline nightmare matchup for Isner. Obviously his serve is the strength of his game, but Ferrer is one of the best returners in the sport. The 33-year-old is also one of the best baseliners around, so Isner will be in trouble whenever his deliveries get put back in the court. All of that being said, the underdog has been serving up an absolute storm Down Under. More of the same will keep him competitive, but Ferrer may wear him out in the end.
Prediction – Ferrer in five sets
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