Isner turns a corner to reach Paris Masters semis

John Isner turned a corner this summer and now is playing his

best tennis.

The big-serving American defeated David Ferrer of Spain 6-3,

3-6, 6-3 at the Paris Masters on Friday, reaching his first

semifinal at a Masters 1000 tournament.

”This is right up there with making the quarterfinals of the

U.S. Open, when I’ve beaten a handful of good players and I’m

playing very well,” said Isner, the only unseeded player left in

the draw. ”This is the first time in my career that I’ve played

this well at this stage of the year.”

Isner hit 34 winners to 26 for Ferrer.

Isner took a 4-1 lead in the first set and clinched it with an

ace. But the American sent a forehand wide at 3-2 to drop serve in

the second and the fourth-seeded Ferrer leveled the match when

Isner netted a forehand return.

In the final set, Ferrer sent a forehand long to let Isner break

for a 5-3 lead, and the 6-foot-9 American sealed the win with an

ace.

”When I’m confident and going for my shots, I like to consider

myself a tough out for anyone,” Isner said. ”But there was a time

earlier on this year I was struggling with my confidence and

nothing was going my way.

”I eventually just worked my way out of it. There’s nothing you

can do. Once I got back to the U.S. for the summer hard-court

season, that’s when I started to play my best.”

Isner won titles in Winston-Salem and Newport, and was a

runner-up in Atlanta this summer.

Previously, the 26-year-old had mostly been remembered for

playing in the longest match in tennis history, against Nicolas

Mahut at Wimbledon in 2010.

Isner is ranked 25th and hopes to rise into the top 10 after

reaching a career-high No. 18 last year.

”It’s something I definitely think I can do,” he said. ”It

won’t happen this year, but it’s going to be one of my goals in

2012.”

Isner will face 2008 Paris Masters champion Jo-Wilfried Tsonga

in the semifinals on Saturday.

The courts of the Bercy arena are slower than last year, which

is to Isner’s liking.

”Last year, for me, it was way too fast,” Isner said. ”It

seems slower this year, which I definitely prefer.

”You know, I got big strokes, and last year I was always late,

catching up to the ball. This year I feel like I have a lot more

time. I’m very happy with all the conditions here.”