Nick Wass/Associated Press
In the grand scheme of tennis, it's probably of little consequence that John Isner was defeated in his first match at the Citi Open in Washington D.C. by No. 68-ranked Steve Johnson.
What followed later was more bizarre and perhaps would have been better left unsaid. Isner was not happy about being assigned to play on a grandstand court:
"I didn’t like playing out there. I thought it was [expletive],” Isner said to the press, via The Washington Post. "I just didn’t think I deserved to play there. Simple as that."
Isner was also rankled that other higher-ranked seeds were given the feature court, because, as The Associated Press reported (via Chris Chase of USA Today), international TV outlets made their pitch to prefer matches with Tomas Berdych, Kei Nishikori and Milos Raonic. Each of those players was matched up with other Americans.
A couple of things to note about Isner. First, he has had a history of complaining about conditions. Last year at the U.S. Open, he was "disappointed" that New York fans cheered for his opponent, Gael Monfils.
In February 2013, Isner complained about the Brazilian fans who supported their Davis Cup representative Thomaz Bellucci in Jacksonville, Florida. Isner lost the five-set match and was called a "crier" by the Brazilian captain, Joao Zwetsch.
OK, so Isner's rabbit ears or sensitivity about getting preferential treatment on home soil probably does not go over too well with most people. But is all of this just background noise, or should a lesser court really be a legitimate beef for a player who relies first and last on his big serving? (He split two tiebreakers with Johnson.)
Organizers will always move players around according to what will enhance their product and ratings. This is part of the way to collect a bigger purse for the players as well, and they will certainly promote their top or most charismatic stars.
At least Isner is consistent with noticing who should get court preferences, as he voiced his view for the 2014 French Open's opening round with defending champion Rafael Nadal assigned to Suzanne Lenglen, the second-show court at Roland Garros:
"That's really bizarre. I mean, how many times does the guy have to win the tournament to be able to have his first match on Chatrier?"
Isner, the arbiter of fairness might be eyeing a post-tennis career as a tournament director or judge. For now, his timing is bad, and he will be judiciously awarded the Burnt Bagel award.