Playing in his own backyard at the Dallas Open, John Isner made ATP Tour history by becoming the first man to win 500 tour-level tie-breaks.
The milestone moment came in Friday's quarter-finals, during a 7-6(8), 7-5 win for the American against Emilio Gomez. He had to work hard for No. 500, saving a set point at 6/7 with a second-serve ace down the T before converting on his third set point of the tie-break.
"I've won a lot of tie-breaks in my career, and in the first set I won a big number of them: 500 of them," he said in his on-court interview in Dallas, drawing cheers from his home crowd. "I'm very glad I didn't have to win 501."
Isner's 500 tie-break wins put him 34 ahead of Roger Federer on the Open Era list, with Pete Sampras (328), Andy Roddick (303), Novak Djokovic (299) and Rafael Nadal (263) also in the Top 10.
|5. F. Lopez||325-278|
Asked to explain his success in tie-breaks, Isner put it down to experience. No one has played more tie-breaks than him, with 819 contested in his career.
"It just comes with a lot of experience, being in that situation. I would love to win matches like Novak does, 6-,1 6-0, but it's just not my style," he said with a smile. "A lot of times I live by the sword, like I have this week, and a lot of times I die by the sword. I take the good with the bad.
"I think something about being at home is calming my nerves in those big situations," he added, alluding to his perfect 4-0 tie-break record this week. "I'm very happy, very lucky to have this tournament here."
No stranger to history-making statistics, Isner became the ATP Tour's undisputed ace king last July at Wimbledon, when he passed Ivo Karlovic for the most aces. He has continued to add to his tally since then, and has now hit more than 14,000 aces.