In a battle that pits a veteran against a young gun, ninth seed and Miami Open champion John Isner takes on Greece's Stefanos Tsitsipas, seeded 31st. Isner has never enjoyed huge success on the grass courts of the All England Club, but will view himself as having a real chance to make his first quarterfinal at Wimbledon and just the second of his career at Slam-level. Tsitsipas is playing at Wimbledon for just the second time, but has looked impressive. Who will come out on top?
With Tsitsipas just 19-years-old, he hasn't had the time to develop rivalries with many of his colleagues on the Tour. However, he has met Isner once competitively. The two faced off last year at the Shanghai Masters in the second round, a match which Isner won in straight sets 7-6 7-6. As mentioned above, with a win here, Isner would advance to just the second Grand Slam quarterfinal of his career. Tsitsipas, meanwhile, has never before made it to the second week of a Major.
Path to the fourth round
Isner breezed past Yannick Maden in the first round 6-2 7-6 7-5. He began brightly against Ruben Bemelmans, winning the first two sets, but then hit a snag. He lost the next two in tiebreaks, along with his temper, as frustration boiled over and he got into an altercation with the chair umpire. But he managed to regain his composure in the fifth, winning it 7-5. The ninth seed then sent Radu Albot of Moldova home in straights 6-3 6-3 6-4 in the third round.
Tsitsipas has had a similar arc to his tournament. He overcame Gregoire Barrere in four, 6-3 6-4 6-7 7-5, in his opening match, with his only dip in concentration coming in the third set tiebreak. But like Isner, his second round match also went the distance despite him winning the first two sets, as he overcame Jared Donaldson 6-3 6-2 3-6 4-6 6-3. The 31st seed then quickly dispatched Italy's Thomas Fabbiano 6-2 6-1 6-4 to set up his clash with Isner.
How do they match up?
Stefanos Tsitsipas may still be a teen, but the potential to be a top player is clearly there. He has a strong serve with a powerful one-handed backhand and clearly is not afraid of the big stage. He has also been volleying impressively so far at the Championships, with a diving effort reminiscent of Boris Becker he made against Jared Donaldson the pick of the bunch. That willingness to come to the net and how comfortable he looks when there bodes well for his Wimbledon future.
Isner has arguably had his best year yet, in large part thanks to the aggressive tennis he has been playing. In the past, any player who could get Isner's powerful serve into play favoured their chances against Isner in a groundstroke exchange. That isn’t necessarily the case anymore with Isner generally looking solid off the ground. That being said, he will need to serve well as he does not have the quality to beat Tsitsipas relying only on his groundstrokes.
Stefanos Tsitsipas has had a wonderful run against the odds at Wimbledon and it looks to be another sign of good things to come in the future for the Greek. But he hasn’t seen a serve like Isner’s yet. Indeed, facing the power of Isner, particularly off his first serve presents a unique challenge, one that looks to be beyond Tsitsipas at this early stage of his career. Expect Isner to get through this match in four and reach the first Wimbledon quarterfinal of his career.