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Isner a 250/1 longshot to consider away from big four at French Open

John Isner may not be one of the first names that spring to mind when asked to pick a winner of the French Open, but his chances must have significantly improved after the giant American recently landed his first career clay-court title.

Coral have priced up Isner at 250/1 to win the French Open, a top industry price, and it would be a big surprise if he wasn’t able to give punters a run for their money.

After all, Isner should arrive at Roland Garros full of confidence after securing victory in the final of the ATP Tour event in Houston, knocking out clay specialists Juan Monaco and Nicolas Almagro in his final two matches.

Interestingly, his 64 aces throughout the tournament eclipsed the record previously held by Pete Sampras and beating Almagro is a prized coup as all 12 of the Spaniard’s career titles have come on clay.

This victory should not be too much of a surprise though as Isner has previously shown glimpses that he could be a force on clay if displaying the right dedication to improving his game on the surface.

His five-set classic with Rafael Nadal at the French Open of 2011 when leading 2-0 remains vivid in the memory, while he beat the likes of Roger Federer and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga on red clay last year.

The 28-year-old’s ability to send down aces will always be an asset on any surface, while given that his movement is his biggest weakness, the slower nature of clay is a help to alleviating this.

The main problem has previously been a lack of preparation on the surface and a general lack of tournaments throughout the clay-court season. He said after winning in Houston that this was his first experience of clay since September.

An appearance in Monte Carlo straight after Houston hints of an attempt to address this lack of participation and fatigue can be blamed for a first-round exit to Ernests Gulbis, alongside a bit of jet lag.

Monitoring Isner’s progress until the start of the French Open looks wise and if he gets a promising draw at Roland Garros, he should still be alive into the second week, where anything can happen.