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Isner fights back to bring Team World level

Laver Cup 2019 – Day 2
John Isner pulled Team World back from the brink with a comeback win over Team Europe’s Alexander Zverev on day two of the Laver Cup in Geneva.

The American was two games from defeat before recovering to win 6-7(2) 6-4 10-1 and draw World level at 3-3 with Europe in the overall score.

With two points available for a win on day two, defeat would have seen the red team looking down a 5-1 deficit with Nick Kyrgios up against Roger Federer next.

I wasn’t making any inroads on his serve at all and he was the better player for 85% of that match – John Isner

“Maybe we’re turning the tables just a little bit,” said Isner. “Team World is in this and we’re here to win, so let’s get it going!”

Zverev put himself in a commanding position with some fine serving, winning 20 of 21 points behind his first serve as he took the opening set on the tiebreaker.

Team World celebrate during the match between John Isner and Alexander Zverev. Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images for Laver Cup

An unexpected Isner double fault had handed the German the initiative and it took until the latter stages of the second set for the American‘s game to finally catch fire.

A lunging volley helped Isner grab the crucial break for 5-4, prompting his teammates and captain to leap to their feet, and the world No.20 carried the momentum into the match tiebreaker.

With his serve now firing and the groundstrokes in a groove, Isner dismantled Zverev 10-1, one blistering forehand winner down the line summing up the explosive change of circumstances.

“I wasn’t making any inroads on his serve at all and he was the better player for 85% of that match,” said Isner.

“Of course, I got a little lucky at 4-4 but once I got up 5-4, I had a lot of momentum, and I think I showed that in the tiebreaker.”

Game Insight Group analysis

  • Isner had the most favourable odds of all of the World players in the singles line-up on Day 2 with a 40% win chance.
  • Big-hitting Isner avoided a tiebreak in the second set by breaking late in the ninth game. That game alone added 20 points to Isner’s win chances, which made it the biggest game of the second set.
  • Although even Isner admitted that Zverev played the better match at times, he dominated the deciding tiebreak, winning seven straight points. We can see how much Isner shut down Zverev’s movement in the 3rd set, when Zverev had just three sprints and seven high-intensity changes of direction while Isner had seven sprints and 12 high-intensity changes.

The Game Insight Group, formed by Tennis Australia in partnership with Victoria University, is a team of experts revolutionising tennis through science.

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