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John Isner, Greensboro native, wins French Open first-round match; here's what he had to say

John Isner, Greensboro native, wins French Open first-round match; here's what he had to say

France Tennis French Open

Spectators with face masks watch a first-round match of the French Open tennis tournament at Roland-Garros.

Greensboro native John Isner, a Page High School alumnus and two-time Winston-Salem Open champion, won his first-round match Sunday in the French Open tennis championship in Paris.

The details

Result: Defeated Frenchman Elliot Benchetrit 6-4, 6-1, 6-3.

Key stat: The hard-serving Isner, who averages 21 aces per match to lead the ATP World Tour, managed seven on the damp clay on Court 7.

Up next: The No. 21 seed and world's No. 23-ranked player will face Sebastian Korda in the second round Wednesday. Korda, who was born in Bradenton, Fla., and is ranked No. 211 in the world, defeated Andreas Seppi 6-2, 4-6, 6-3, 6-3.

What he's saying

On cool and damp conditions in Paris

"The last clay court match I played was this tournament in 2018. It's been more than two years since I've stepped foot on clay. But with how the clay is now, I think it almost helps me in the sense that the really good movers can't really slide around like they normally can because the clay is really damp. It kind of played like a slow hard court, I thought. There wasn't much sliding. I'm not the best slider.

"It's tough conditions. I really don't mind it. ...

"If I'm going for my shots the right way, not playing tentative, I think conditions like this can be pretty good for me. Hopefully I can keep getting stronger in this tournament and try to play the right way.

"If I don't, it doesn't really matter what type of court I'm playing on. If I'm playing tentative, I just get run around on the court, my opponent runs me around. That's not a good recipe for me."

On the difficulty of 2020

"For me, it hasn't been difficult. I got to spend a lot of time at home. I've been healthy. My family's been healthy. My immediate family, my wife and kids, my parents, brothers, in-laws, everybody has been healthy.

"For me, there's absolutely no complaints. I've been very lucky throughout all this. Of course, there's countless thousands and thousands and hundreds of thousands that have been affected by this either directly or indirectly.

"Again, I consider myself very lucky. It hasn't been difficult for me at all."

On facing Sebastian Korda

"I've gotten to know Sebastian decently well over the last year or so. It's really good to see him start having great results. I mean, he's still so young. To see him qualify here and win a first round, that's a huge result. ... He's a great hope for American tennis.

"I'm very happy to be playing him next round because in five years' time I won't be playing, he'll be right in the prime of his career. To be able to say we squared off against each other I think is pretty cool.

"Him and I get along very well. We both really love hockey. He's a Boston Bruins fan, I'm a Carolina Hurricanes fan. They eliminated Carolina again in the playoffs. Gives me some crap for that.

"He certainly has an incredible pedigree given his father's (Petr's) tennis career, his two sisters (Nelly and Jessica) doing amazing things on the LPGA Tour. Good to see him having success. That's a very, very athletic family, no doubt about that."

On COVID safety and distance with fans

"We're wearing our masks. We're not leaving the hotel, of course, to go out to dinner or do anything like that. Speaking for myself, I feel very safe. There's no doubt about that. I think they've done a good job. ...

"I think it's important not to freak out too much if someone gets too close to you. We've got to get back to normal here. Normal behavior, in my opinion, is very much needed.

"It's fine. I've taken a few photos outside the hotel. They don't allow fans inside the hotel. We keep our distance. Our masks are on. It's totally safe. I would feel safe if we didn't take all these precautions, as well.

"Again, the players have been protected very well here."

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