U.S. Open R2 preview and pick: Isner vs. Monfils

John Isner, unquestionably the United States’ biggest hope in New York, will be back in action on Thursday. Standing in Isner’s way of the third round is Gael Monfils.

John Isner and Gael Monfils will be meeting for the seventh time in their careers when they do battle in round two of the U.S. Open on Thursday.

The head-to-head series stands at 3-3 and all six of their previous encounters have come on hard courts. All five of their best-of-three matches have gone the distance and their 2010 Australian Open showdown went to four–with Isner prevailing 6-1, 4-6, 7-6(4), 7-6(5). Two of their clashes required third-set tiebreakers to be decided; Isner survived six years ago in Washington, D.C. and Monfils won by the same manner in their most recent collision–at the same D.C. event in 2011.

Both players have battled through injuries to pick up some momentum this summer. Isner was robbed of Australian Open and Wimbledon campaigns due to knee problems, but he is on fire right now. The 14th-ranked American won the Atlanta title and finished runner-up in both Washington, D.C. (to Juan Martin Del Potro) and Cincinnati (to Rafael Nadal). He is 15-2 on hard courts in the United States dating back to the Atlanta second round.

Monfils’ physical problems have been far worse–both throughout his career and this season. The Frenchman played no hard-court tournaments in July and early August until last week in Winston-Salem, where an abdominal strain forced him to retire in the title match against Jurgen Melzer. Still, Monfils’ path to the final included scalps of Tommy Robredo, Fernando Verdasco, and Alexandr Dolgopolov. The world No. 39 is 30-17 for the year and and he has advanced at least two rounds in six of his last seven tournaments.

Isner kicked off his fortnight with a 6-0, 6-2, 6-3 destruction of Filippo Volandri that lasted one hour and 16 minutes. Monfils needed only one hour and 33 minutes to dispose of Adrian Ungur 6-1, 6-2, 6-0. Failure to conserve energy in early rounds has been a huge problem for Isner, so Tuesday’s result was crucial. Monfils, of course, wanted to get off the court as fast as possible to heal his wounds. The result should be a high-quality contest as long as Monfils is close to 100 percent physically.

Based on Isner’s current form and his propensity to win close sets, especially in tiebreakers, this may not live all the way up to the hype. Every set, though, should be entertaining.

Pick: Isner in 3

29 Comments on U.S. Open R2 preview and pick: Isner vs. Monfils

  1. I don’t know if Monfils is up to the task. If he wasn’t coming back from an injury, then maybe I would have more belief that he can do it. Isner is looking good now, so this could be too much to ask of Monfils right now.

    Of course, there is no question that I would be delighted to see Monfils pull it off! I don’t like Rafa having to face Isner after playing him in the finals of Cincy. That was enough for me!

    • I don’t expect LaMonf to beat Izzy but I do expect him to make him work hard and hopefully tire him out before a possible Rafa meeting. Incidentally, is anybody else as apprehensive as I am about a possible Rafa/Davydenko meeting in the 3rd? I hate Kolya’s unpredictability, he could turn up and withdraw in the middle of the 1st set or he could come on like gangbusters just to show Rafa he’s boss! At least with Izzy you know what’s coming, bombs and more bombs…….

      • @ RIBT……….haha!!!

        I think at best Monfils will just drive Isner crazy, but I dont think he will beat Isner, but hey, in tennis, you just NEVER know!!!! But for sure, Gael will not make it easy for Izzy!!!!

      • ritb,

        I am not worried about a possible third round meeting with Davy. He is a shadow of his former self. There is a reason why this guy has never won a slam and that’s because he can’t beat the top players. He cannot sustain a high enough level of play in a best of five set match.

        We don’t know if it’s going to be Davy or Dodig. So let’s wait and see. Even if he can summon up some decent tennis, I just don’t think he can be truly competitive at this point in his career.

        I truly wish that I believed Monfils could take out Isner, but I just don’t think he’s ready. He could make it interesting.

  2. isner is making me nervous now !! following the scoreline…he seems to be returning well too :O is it?

  3. waiting for rafa to wrap this up quickly so that I can watch some of it…looks like izzy is gona race through this one

  4. woahh who big time tennis from Gael… he made some adjustments on 2nd serve ROS.he sliced them back with his forehand, drew isner into the net and both time won the point with well struck passing shots of his backhand.. as expected, he is fired up!

    Now a love game, the match is alive !

    Ricky, I hope you are not part of the big ‘Monfilss *clap clap* Monfilss *clap clap* roars on Ashe when Monfils was up 0-40 on 4-4 LOL

  5. The New York crowd is cheering for Monfils and the espn commentators can’t shut up about it! You would think it was a capital offense! Monfils got the crowd on his side when Isner hit a serve that was called out and didn’t have any challenges. Monfils knew that it was good and offered to give Isner the point, but he declined. That’s when the crowd gave Monfils a standing ovation!

    Note to Raonic – that’s how it’s done! It’s called sportsmanship!

    I am happy that Monfils has made a match of it. I thought he would go down in straight sets but he has hung in there and made some great shots to take it to four sets. He lives dangerously out there. But when he does come back, I realize how much I miss him and his craziness and brilliant shots and great personality on the court.

    Isner took a nice long break after losing the third set to change his clothes or whatever. Then he called the trainer to wrap his thigh. Gamesmanship? You won’t hear the espn commentators criticizing him.

    I am happy to see this crowd celebrating someone like Monfils, who gives everyone a good show and reminds us all that when he’s on, it’s something to see.

    • Is there a reason for this rude comment? Do you have an opinion or are you just here to be insulting? Try contributing to the discussion.

      I know my tennis and I know what I saw. Maybe you are the one who is on another planet or in an alien universe.

  6. yeah …nd a nice hug at the end! good sportsmanship by gael…he is quite an entertainment..

    the aggressive player won after 4-4 in the breaker…isner has improved his aggressive game now…

    I would give kohli aa decent chance..izzy the favourite though ..it would be a revenge win

  7. I don’t know if Kohls is playing well enough right now. He hasn’t looked that impressive the last few times I have watched him. But if he is able to come out and play well, then the match could be interesting.

    As for Monfils, it’s not easy to win over a New York crowd when you are playing their hometown favorite, but he did it. I hope that he stays healthy so that he can get into great form and fitness again. He showed flashes of his brilliance, but going down two sets was just too tough to overcome.

    Isner is playing more aggressive, but I saw some weaknesses that I think Rafa can exploit should they meet. All due respect to Monfils, but Rafa is in a different league.

  8. I agree with you, NNY… and yeah, this poster snowdevil, only posts once in a while and the post is usually a dig at a rafa fan… Would be much better to contribute to the discussions

  9. Well, looks like Izzy is going to have his re-match with Rafa, something I am not looking forward to, truth be told. Izzy is growing, as a player, right before our eyes. I think he is now one of the most mentally strong players on Tour, up there with the Big 4. To me this is the challenge playing Izzy, you cannot afford even a slight dip in concentration because then you lose your serve because he has now upped his return game and you know he will not give you a look-in on his serve. What you can hope for is the inevitable TB and hope he has a momentary lapse, makes a wrong shot selection and misses a shot…..

    • And then after all that, he goes and loses uncerimoniously to the other guy!!!! C’mon , Rafa!! I hope Rafa takes care of Isner good and proper!!! And like I said in another post, I didnt think Isner was that impressive given that it was Monfils! Rafa will be ready……Isner beware, you wont beat Rafa with just a serve…………….no way!!

      Vamos!!!!!

  10. I agree with monalysa. We have to remember that Isner was playing Monfils, just coming back from an injury. He wasn’t at his best, but still managed to produce some great tennis to win the third set. He was never going to come back after going down two sets. Just too much for him at this time.

    We all know what the story is with Isner. It’s that serve! It puts tremendous pressure on his opponents. I hope that Rafa will come up with something to get a break against him this time. I do think that Isner is playing some of his best tennis right now. He is hitting his forehand really well and showed that he could hang with Monfils in some of their rallies.

    Rafa is a huge step up from Monfils. We know that Rafa is playing some of his best tennis right now. He always seems to find the answers. He will have to serve out of his mind against Isner, hope to have a chance for the break and if it goes to the tb, just try to win some key points.

    I just don’t see Kohls taking out Isner. I certainly expect Rafa to beat Dodig, although I do think that this will be a decent match. Rafa is ready to be tested a little. He’s had two easy early rounds. I expect Dodig to go out there and play some good tennis.

  11. djoker was on the verge of losing set 1..i tuned in when set 2 was on, djoker won easily in the end but it was such a quiet and dull match :S no energy on the court nd atmosphere

  12. Too right it was a damp squib so I left to watch Kudla and Berdych. Dont know what is up with Berdy but Kudla has taken the match to him big time and forced two tie breaks. Lost both of them but is still holding Berdy to ransom in the 3rd. He is beginning to flag now and has had the trainer on twice so can’t see him causing Berdy headaches for much longer.

    A 2nd wave of newcomers have suddenly appeared on the scene!

  13. K & M must be paying mega bucks to Berdych – why else would he be seen wearing such embarrassingly bad clothing? Not only is it plain tacky but it’s also ill-fitting and in cheap, nasty fabrics. It’s a real shame because he always looked so good in the Nike gear.

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