John Isner will lead Team United States at the inaugural ATP Cup, to be held in Australia from 3-12 January 2020. The United States will be competing in Group D in Perth, facing Russia, Italy and Norway. Isner will be joined by Taylor Fritz, Reilly Opelka, Rajeev Ram and Austin Krajicek.
The World No. 19, who finished inside the year-end Top 20 for the 10th consecutive season, speaks to ATPTour.com about his excitement for the new team event, his longtime relationship with one of his teammates and more before the competition gets underway.
Next year will start a bit differently for you with a new team event in the ATP Cup. How excited are you for that?
It’s very interesting. This is of course a brand new event and one that I think a lot of players are excited about and myself in particular. I think I’m going to have a nice little off-season, spending a lot of my time in Dallas, being able to focus on my family, but also focus on myself and keeping myself in good shape and trying to stay sharp on the tennis side of things as well.
I’m looking forward to that event and I think it’s a very good thing. It’s guaranteed matches. The past three, four years I’ve sort of stumbled in Australia. It sort of takes me a long time to get going and feel good about my game, so I’m very much looking forward to the ATP Cup.
I think we also have a good team on top of that, so it’ll be exciting. It’s been a while since I’ve been to Perth, Australia. Looking forward to getting over there, it’s a lot of fun and it’ll be a blast.
You went to college before turning professional, so you’ve long enjoyed a team environment. Do you think that playing the ATP Cup will help you considering what you said about slow starts the past few years?
I think so for sure. I’ve always enjoyed playing for a team. I’ve really done it my whole life. Playing in the team events, playing in the Laver Cup has been a joy for me and you definitely can get your competitive juices flowing after a pretty long lay-off.
It’ll be pressure-packed on top of that, being out there playing for your country right out of the gate. So I do think that will be a very good thing for me and hopefully it will bode well for the Australian Open next year.
One of your teammates is Rajeev Ram, who is just a year older than you. Is it exciting to compete with someone you’ve known for so long?
We’ve known each other forever now, since 14 and under juniors. I remember seeing his name in the draw. He was always better than me in the juniors and he was a pretty big name when it came to junior tennis. He’s obviously done incredible things on the pro tour and he’s been incredibly consistent as well.
He had a very good singles career and now he’s having an excellent doubles career, so for him to be on the team I think is a huge boon for our team considering how good he is in doubles and he’s very excited about it as well. We’ve texted back and forth and I know he’s fired up about playing the ATP Cup. Austin Krajicek is on our team as well so our team is set and we’re looking forward to getting over to Australia.
How exciting is it to get to play with someone like Rajeev given those memories you have from when you were kids?
It’s very cool. We’ve actually never had this opportunity before to play a team event together. We played at different colleges so to be able to team up with Rajeev I think will be very cool. Outside of the Bryan brothers, we’re the elder statesmen of American tennis, so it’ll be cool to team up with him.
How special is it for your to represent the United States?
It’s a great honour. Getting to represent the U.S. in the ATP Cup is a huge honour, and it’s more important than playing for yourself out there. It’s a big honour and I personally think this event is going to be very successful as well. It’s going to be a lot of fun, the competition is going to be amazing. All in all, I couldn’t think of a better way to start the year.
What’s most special about the United States as a country?
It’s the greatest country in the world. You have the most opportunity to do amazing things in this country and I’ve been afforded that opportunity through tennis. Everything you really want to do is at your disposal if you work hard, focus and just make right decisions and respect the people that you need to respect and I think that’s what I’ve done my whole life.
It’s afforded me to do some pretty cool things on the court and off the court. I enjoy my time in the States more than anything. I think there’s a reason why I always play well in America and it’s because I’m very comfortable here.