When it comes to staying in the game, nobody beats John Isner—literally. The 33-year-old has not only participated in two of the longest matches in tennis history (one lasted more than 11 hours over three days), but, after playing professionally for more than a decade, he won his biggest career title to date at last year’s Miami Open. “It felt amazing,” says Isner of capturing the ATP Masters 1000 singles crown. “I’d been in that situation three times prior and had fallen short, so to get back there and win it was extra special.” He intends to bring home that trophy again at this year’s tournament, which is buzzier than ever thanks to its move to Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens.
More than his roller-coaster career, which began when he played for the University of Georgia, tennis fans can’t seem to get over Isner’s killer serve (he defeated world No. 5 German star Alexander Zverev with three straight 130-plus-mile-per- hour aces) and 6-foot-10-inch frame. “[My height] is more of a benefit than a hurdle,” he says. Even Miami’s record temperatures don’t seem to slow him down; in fact, he considers the city a prime destination for his chosen sport. “I’ve played in Miami for 12 straight years,” he says. “It’s at the top for me as far as tennis cities go. There’s just so much energy there.”
And even though he’s ecstatic at the prospect of another Miami Open win, Isner says the rush of victory doesn’t match the passion he has for his newest title, proud dad to 6-month-old Hunter Grace: “Her birth was the best day of my life. I’m extremely blessed.” March 18-31, Hard Rock Stadium, 347 Don Shula Drive, Miami Gardens, miamopen.com