Isner irritated by lack of support as fans back Monfils
US player wins match but Frenchman Monfils captures the fans' boisterous backing at Open
An American man playing at the American grand slam tournament, John Isner, found it hard to believe so many US Open spectators were cheering so vigorously for his French opponent, Gael Monfils.
They clapped rhythmically while chanting, "Let's go, Monfils". They loudly sang his last name between points. They rose to their feet and raucously saluted Monfils' best shots. They applauded faults and other miscues by the 13th-seeded Isner, the highest-ranked US man, who eventually pulled out a 7-5, 6-2, 4-6, 7-6 (7/4) victory.
"I was a little bit disappointed in that, actually. Not going to sugarcoat it," said Isner, who reached the third round at Flushing Meadows for the fifth consecutive year. "If I was playing in France, it certainly wouldn't be like that."
From late in the third set, spectators at Louis Armstrong Stadium really began backing Monfils.
"It was surprising, actually," Monfils said. "It was surprising - but it was good."
It certainly was an unusual display during a match involving a US player at the most important tennis tournament in the United States. Maybe, as Monfils guessed afterward, the ticket-holders simply wanted more bang for their buck, instead of a three-set, open-and-shut affair. Or maybe, as Isner surmised, Monfils' style just won them over.
"He's a very fun-loving guy, and he gets cheered on wherever he goes, not just in France. He's one of the most exciting tennis players in the world, hands down," Isner said. "He's been fighting a bunch of injuries, so it's good to see him back healthy."
Monfils is most decidedly a showman, one of the most gregarious and demonstrative players on tour, one who plays to the crowd and sometimes seems more interested in being an entertainer than a winner. He's been ranked as high as No 7, and reached the semi-finals at his home major, the French Open, in 2008. But he also has been slowed by injuries, and skipped Wimbledon this year.
"He gets the crowd involved," Isner said. "If you purchase a ticket to watch him play, you're not going to go home disappointed. That's just how it is."
The 6-foot-10 Isner is hardly the most well-known or accomplished US tennis player, but he is probably the host country's best chance for a deep run this year.