The unofficial start to the Citi Open took place at the Hamilton Live Monday night as chefs, tennis stars, and enthusiasts of both gathered for the Citi Taste of Tennis. All-star Sloane Stephens and executive chef Jerome Grant turned up the heat with an onstage cooking demonstration while John Isner served up some dish on the game with adoring fans.
“I really like the U.S. Open,” divulged Isner when asked to choose his favorite tournament. “I like playing in the States — I’m sort of a homebody — and it’s generally where I play my best.”
“Of course I love coming to Washington every year,” he added, playing to the crowd. “This tournament is absolutely phenomenal. It has a great atmosphere and the city is incredible… Playing professional tennis in this city [where I used to take field trips] is such a cool experience for me. But this all culminates with the U.S. Open.”
As attendees tasted Chicken Red Curry Basil Tikka and Lemon Rice courtesy of Punjab Grill‘s Jassi Bindra, Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting and Pineapple Syrup by Ocean Prime‘s Leo Harvey, and so many other delectable dishes alongside tennis favorites like Chris Eubanks, Marcelo Melo, Jan-Lennard Struff, Matthew Ebden, Medvedev Daniil, Treat Huey, and Shelby Rogers, Isner looked ahead to the week’s matches.
While he’s not on the playing roster, Isner named Djokovic as the “most difficult to play.”
“I’ve played everyone — all the top guys — and I’ve lost to them so many times. But [Djokovic]… when he’s really really locked in and dialed in and killing all of his opponents, he’s the toughest guy to beat. I’ve unfortunately had to play him when he’s very locked in and it’s a very tough task — something that I’ve failed at a bunch of times.”
But did all of the Zonin Prosecco, Oban Whiskey, and Diplomático Rum have him spilling own playing secrets? Citi Taste of Tennis guests now know that he calls his serve his “main weapon” and his “finishing shot.”
“There have been times when I haven’t played great, but my serve can always keep me in a match… I rely on my serve a lot,” he admitted.
He also shared that DC’s Citi Open court was favorable for his style of play.
“Serves that bounce lower can give you trouble — they bounce below my knees and are hard for me to play. That’s why I like playing DC. It’s a nice hard court that bounces pretty high and that suits my game very well.”
Citi Taste of Tennis celebrated its 20th anniversary and its 2nd year in the nation’s capital. The next stop is Cipriani in New York.