Big Bad John. Are you old enough to remember that late 50s smash hit by Tennessee Ernie Ford? Two of those three words in that song title apply to John Isner. He is big and his name is John. But he is not bad. He is good. Real good.
In fact, truth be told, he is great. Real great. He is a great tennis player and he is a great guy.
Listen to these credentials. This handsome 30 year-old, stands 6'10" and played just down the road in Athens at the University of Georgia and what a tennis star he was there … won the NCAA Doubles as a sophomore and then led the Dawgs to the NCAA championship in his senior season and also reached the Division I singles final.
With his Rocket 88 serve and his sweet groundstrokes, he rose quickly up the rankings out on the ATP World Tour and has hit a career high ranking of No. 9 and he has won nine singles titles and three doubles championships and has been a Davis Cup stalwart the past few years and recorded wins over the likes of Roger Federer and Jo-Willie Tsonga when playing for the USA. And who can ever forget his epic and spine-tingling five-set win over Nicolas Mahut, that took three days and over 11 hours.
Let’s hope the match against Radek Stepanek (starting not before 6 p.m.) doesn’t last as long.
Having blasted over 6,500 aces during his career, he is our No. 1 ranked American and our No. 1 seed here in Atlanta. He has won the BB&T Atlanta Open the past two years in a row and he has been a finalist here twice.
Besides being a great player, he is truly a great guy. Warm. Friendly. Funny. Kind. Caring. Classy. Charismatic. A wonderful role model for kids.
And I must also tell you that John hosts a charity event each year in his hometown of Greensboro, North Carolina to benefit the UNC Lineberger Cancer Center, where John's beautiful and dynamic mom, Karen, was successfully treated for cancer. Mike and Bob and James Blake played the event this year and I had fun emceeing it and the stadium was jam packed and sold out and great funds were raised for that worthwhile cause and there were good feelings all around.
And other talented and fast rising Americans will also be on Stadium Court today and we know you will be rooting for our third-seeded American Jack Sock. Dennis Kudla, who had such a great run to the fourth round of Wimbledon a few weeks ago, and Stevie Johnson, two-time NCAA champion. Like, big John, they are fine young men one and all and they can all bring the heat out there on court.
And the rockin' Bryan Brothers had a big win over the humungous serving Aussie tandem of Chris Guccione and Sam Groth out here late last night and they will again be featured on Stadium Court tonight, not before 8 p.m.
Again, we say thanks and congratulations to our hard working and dedicated Tournament Director Eddie Gonzalez for bringing in such a robust field of players this year … and almost every one of our top American players! He even managed to work his magic and coax a few out of retirement, as well as bringing in our hot young teen sensations that are showing so much promise and creating so much buzz. And he was able to bring back John Isner to try and go for a three peat.
Ya know, if Ernie Ford were alive today and recording that tune, after watching John Isner on and off the court, he just might change that song title to Big Great John!