U.S. Davis Cup Captain and ESPN commentator Patrick McEnroe delivered the news American tennis fans were dreading following Isner’s decision to limp out of his second round match against Argentina’s David Nalbandian at this week’s Western and Southern Financial Group Masters in Cincinnati.
"It sounds like it may be more severe than initially we thought," said McEnroe during ESPN's broadcast of the tournament on Thursday evening, adding that Isner may turn out to have ligament damage. “John is questionable for the U.S. Open.”
Isner underwent scans in a Cincinnati clinic to determine the extent of the injury. He initially attempted to play on after taking an injury time out but foot-faulted on his first serve back, lost two points, and then retired from the match.
"Upon landing, my right foot just twisted really quick on the outside," he said. "That was it. I couldn't play after that.''
Initially Isner was more upbeat about his chances of competing at Flushing Meadows and recalled a similar injury sustained last summer in Los Angeles. "It's tough to say,” he said. “I feel like I did last year in L.A., and I came back pretty quick. I don't think the U.S. Open is in doubt. I didn't sprain it. I rolled it pretty good. But in 10 days' time, I'll be fine.''
To worsen McEnroe’s concerns, the U.S.’s other leading singles player for the World Group play-off against Columbia to be played in Bogota straight after the Open is also an injury doubt. Sam Querrey has pulled out of next week’s Pilot Pen Tennis event in New Haven but it is thought to be only a precautionary measure to allow the 22 year-old time to rest and recuperate before the U.S. Open.
With Isner and Querrey initially filling the singles spots, McEnroe’s United States team suffered its first World Group first round defeat in five years when falling 3-2 to Serbia in Belgrade in March. No U.S. team has been relegated from the World Group since 1988 and America is the most successful nation in Davis Cup history, having been crowned champion 32 times.