When it was announced that the Memphis Open would be relocating to Long Island and become the “New York Open,” one of the first players to commit to the event was American John Isner.
“I’m excited about being one of the headliners for this first-time winter ATP Tour event in New York,” said Isner. “We hear NYCB Live, home of The Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum has been renovated to be a first-class state-of-the-art arena, and it's getting good buzz among the players.”
The 16th-ranked player in the world brought immediate star power to the event early on, beginning a wave of talented players entering the New York Open field.
“I always try to play as much as I can inside the United States, and this event fits my calendar perfectly,” said Isner. “It will be my first tournament after the Australian Open. I want to get right back into things after that Slam. It’s the first year of the event and it will be a great one.”
Isner is hoping for a strong 2018 campaign which will begin in Melbourne before he comes to Long Island. The Greensboro, N.C. native has become a familiar face in the New York area. He played for the New York Empire during the Mylan World TeamTennis season this past summer at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. More recently, Isner spent time at local facilities, including the John McEnroe Tennis Academy at Sportime Randall's Island and Christopher Morley Tennis to promote the New York Open, talking to the students of each program.
This offseason has been a bit different than in years past for Isner, as he married his longtime girlfriend, Madison McKinley, in a country-themed wedding in South Carolina. Many of Isner’s peers and compatriots were on hand to celebrate the new Mr. and Mrs. Isner.
“It was spectacular,” Isner said of the wedding. “My wife’s family did a pretty cool job of putting everything together. It was picturesque from beginning to end. We had so many close friends and family there … it was truly a magical weekend.”
Now a married man, Isner heads into the new season with high expectations, and has been training hard to get himself ready for 2018. His first priority is to make sure he is in the best shape possible to remain healthy for the entire year, something he has emphasized this winter.
"It's been different this offseason for sure," Isner said. "The focus has been less on tennis. For me, it's more important to get my body right before I start practicing really hard, and that's what I've been doing. I've been lifting a lot of weights and training hard, getting myself healthy. After a long year, there are always a few injuries that pop up that you need to get healthy. And that's what I've done. I feel very strong. Now it's time to get the tennis part of things going."
Having spent a decade on the Pro Tour, Isner knows what he does and does not need to do in order to get himself ready for the year, and is set for another successful season leading the American charge in men's tennis.
As one of the headliners for the New York Open, Isner heads the pack of talented Americans who will make up the tournament's draw including Sam Querrey, Steve Johnson, Ryan Harrison, Frances Tiafoe, Jared Donaldson and Noah Rubin.
"I think it's going to be a very good showcase for American players. We know of a few who have already committed to play this tournament," said Isner. "Men's tennis in the United States is on its way up. There are some players like myself who have been doing this a long time but there are also some players behind me that keep me young. These players may not be household names right now, but give it a couple of years and they should be."
Isner still has plenty left in the tank and the motivation to keep pushing to achieve his goals.
"I'm still very motivated. I always try to put things into perspective,” said Isner. “I play a sport for a living. I'm very blessed. I have a fantastic job; I know how lucky I am. I want to do this as long as I can."
Joining Isner as one of the initial commits was Japan’s Kei Nishikori, a former U.S. Open finalist who concluded 2017 as the 22nd-ranked player in the world.
“Playing in New York has always been exciting for me and to think I could win a fifth title during this ATP Tour week would be amazing,” said Nishikori, who turned pro in 2007 and owns 11 career ATP titles. “I’ll miss Memphis, but I’m going to love New York.”
The Memphis Open was the tournament that was previously played during this week and has moved to New York. Nishikori captured the title four straight years in Memphis, 2013-2016, and will look to begin a new run of success nearly 1,200 miles away.
Unfortunately, injuries have played a big role for Nishikori in recent years and were the main culprit in his ranking slipping outside the top 20 as 2017 concluded. It forced him to withdraw from Brisbane to start off 2018 as he hopes to take care of his body for a long and prosperous season which includes his stop on Long Island.
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Brian Coleman is the Senior Editor for New York Tennis Magazine. He may be reached at email@example.com