American John Isner is competing at the Abierto Mexicano Telcel presentado por HSBC this week, an ATP 500 in Acapulco. Ahead of his second-round match against sixth seed Cameron Norrie, the 36-year-old caught up with ATPTour.com to speak about his life on the ATP Tour.
The World No. 23 reveals what he cannot sleep without, his love for playing in Paris, how he handles jetlag and more.
This is the newest edition of ATPTour.com’s Next Stop – Nomadic Life series.
What are two essential non-tennis items you always pack for trips?
I always pack books. I like to read. I try to read two or three books on a trip. I normally don’t get through two or three, I might get through one. The last book I read was on the American Indian wars, after the American Civil War when America was expanding west. I only read history books because it is the only thing I am interested in.
The next item is a little weird. I pack a sound machine. It has the white noise in the background because we have kids and they sleep with the sound machine on and I always hear it through our baby monitor, so I have got used to that. I like to have that noise in the background. I don’t sleep well if I don’t have it.
What item did you forget to bring one time that caused you distress?
My phone. That was about 10 years ago. I got to Europe and I had left it at the airport. So I got to Europe and I didn’t have my phone. This was 10 years ago so I wasn’t attached to my phone. I got one shipped to me but it took 10 days.
Do you enjoy travelling or do you see it as just part of the job?
I do enjoy travelling around the world. I enjoy it more now than when I was young. I think when I was young, I took it for granted a little bit. My family is going to be travelling with me a lot this year and that is cool. It is not all work when I am on the road. I like seeing each new city. We are so lucky to play in amazing cities each week and especially when I get out of America. I like going to Europe, I like going to Mexico twice a year. We are very lucky to play sport in these amazing cities.
Have you ever decided to play a specific tournament in part because you wanted to travel to that city?
Vienna at the end of the year. I had never played there before. I have always played Basel in Switzerland. I always heard good things about Vienna, so I went there and it was an amazing city.
Where is your favourite tournament city to visit?
I would say it is probably Paris. I really like Paris. I go there twice a year for Roland Garros and then the indoor Masters at the end of the year. I actually prefer the end-of-year tournament in October because I prefer the weather better. It is a little chillier and I think it is fun to walk around the streets of Paris with a coat on.
Where is your favourite vacation destination?
I like to go to the mountains a lot. I have spent time up in Wyoming in America.
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What is your craziest travel story?
It happened last summer. I was flying from Dallas to Toronto to play the [ATP] Masters 1000 and I was not let on the plane. I was accused of forging my documents that we needed for Covid to be exempt from quarantine that the tournament gave us. They thought I had made up the documents, so they didn’t let me on the plane. They ripped up my tickets in front of my face and it was pretty amazing.
Will the kids come with you to tournaments this season?
I want them to come to as many tournaments as possible. They didn’t come to Australia this year because with Covid and protocols it would not have been so good. But things seem to be normalising a little bit. I want to make each trip as comfortable as possible. In each city I go to I am going to stay in the nicest hotels and make it the nicest experience for us because I may only have a year or two left of playing.
How do you overcome jetlag?
I am pretty good with jetlag. The first thing to do is work out immediately. The best thing you can do is break a sweat. Hit the gym and the sauna. Get the trip out of you.
Do you prefer the excitement of going to a new tournament and city or do you prefer the comfort of a city you know well?
I prefer the comfort and familiarity because those are the tournaments I usually do well at. But I also enjoy the novelty of travelling to a new city.
Are you someone who gets to the airport with lots of time to spare or do you cut it fine?
I don’t cut it crazy close, but I cut it pretty close. I don’t get there two or three hours early, no.