How John Isner Could Make History Again in 2022

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It’s fair to say that John Isner’s career has been consistent, if not overly spectacular. His ranking has always been steady, ranging somewhere around the top 20 mark for a dozen years now, although he did briefly crack the top ten a few years back. At 36, he is still winning titles (he won a record sixth Atlanta Open in 2021), and he remains the highest-ranked American in the world. And, of course, there’s that serve, a reliable weapon that has been the hallmark of Isner’s game.

How John Isner Could Make History Again in 2022
How John Isner Could Make History Again in 2022

Isner, as you know, can hit a bomb like few others can. And he has hit a lot of them down the years. In fact, if things go as we expect in 2022, he will overtake Ivo Karlovic as the player with the most aces of all-time. As it stands at the end of 2021, Karlovic is on 13,728 aces, whereas Isner is 633 behind on 13,095. As Isner hit over 700 aces in 2021, it’s clearly possible that the American will take the record in the new year.

Of course, some might point out that Karlovic is not yet retired. The Croatian played six tournaments in 2021, and he managed to hit just over 100 aces in his matches, so it is likely that he will increase the number of aces on his record in 2022. But Karlovic will be 43 in February, and his chances of appearing in elite tournaments are dwindling. On the current trajectory, Isner should overtake him by the end of next year.

Isner’s name is already in the history books

If it does happen, it will be yet another record for Isner to look back on, despite, as we said, not having the most spectacular career. He holds the record for the fastest recorded serve at 157.2 mph (as recognized by the ATP), and he also has that incredible stat of playing the longest match in Wimbledon history, clocking in at 11 hours and 5 minutes. That record will surely never be broken, given the changes to introduce a final set tie-break in Grand Slams.

As for the fastest serve and number of aces, it is more likely that those records will be broken at some point in the future, but it won’t be easy. If you look at Karlovic and Isner’s records, they have reached 13,000 aces in approximately 700 career matches, averaging somewhere in the region of 18-19 aces per game. If you look at number three on the list, Roger Federer, his 11,478 aces have come in 1,462 matches, averaging around 8 per match.

Bublik led the way in 2021
Bublik led the way in 2021

Bublik led the way in 2021

Even if we look at someone like Alexander Bublik, who led the ATP Tour in aces in 2021 with 840 in 62 matches, it is not at a high enough rate to catch Isner or Karlovic, evenif Bublik plays for another dozen years or so. For comparison, Isner’s 701 aces in 2021 came in just 34 matches. If he had played as much as Bublik, he would have hit 1,278 aces in 2021.

So, barring some sort of age-defying miracle on the part of Ivo Karlovic, 2022 should be the year that sees John Isner hold three different records in the men’s game: Most aces, fastest serve, and longest match in Grand Slam history. Not bad. Isner has flown the flag for American tennis for the past decade, but it finally seems that a new generation of players is coming up behind him. While he has no Slams to show for these bleak years in US men’s tennis, he will always be able to point to the little bits of history he made in his career.

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