Olympic gold medalist Michael Andrew, a swimmer from the United States, met with John Isner on Saturday at the BNP Paribas Open. The pair spoke about the intricacies of their sport, with topics ranging from Isner’s unforgettable three-day Wimbledon marathon to the importance of recovery from matches.
Andrew, who was part of a world-record-setting 4×100 metre medley relay effort in Tokyo, has become a big tennis fan in recent years. The American spoke to ATPTour.com about meeting Andy Murray in the Olympic Village, his thoughts on Carlos Alcaraz and why John Isner might be a good swimmer.
When did you first start enjoying tennis and who did you watch?
I think the first time for me was three years ago in San Diego. I always loved tennis, I always enjoyed the sport. My dad grew up playing, but I didn’t follow it closely. I got to go to the San Diego Open the first time it was played. I remember watching Andy Murray and Taylor Fritz play and I got to meet Taylor. That kind of started it all.
Then when I was in the Olympic Village I got to meet Andy. I was standing on line getting food and Andy was there. I was like, ‘This is insane!’ I’m around a lot of great athletes, but something about a tennis player and the way that mentally they need to face each shot and reset every point, there’s something special about tennis as a sport. That San Diego Open started it all and then I continued following it very closely.
What is it about the sport itself that you enjoy watching?
For me, I enjoy watching an athlete that is down try to figure out how to overcome the mental challenge of getting points on the board to start a climb. In swimming, you have the same series where you’ll see the starting point of a race, you have a middle section, you have that build up to the end and then that final 15 [metres].
That final 15, that’s what makes or breaks a great athlete and you see athletes like an Alcaraz or Sinner who get to that final stage of the game and find a way to pull it out no matter where they are physically. So I enjoy seeing that parallel from my sport to tennis.
You’re more of a sprinting guy.
I like to go short and fast!
So who would you compare yourself to if you were a tennis player?
Oh boy. Short and fast. It’s a hot topic with Alcaraz being the player he is. He’s incredibly fast on the court… I remember seeing the way he ran. I think it was in the Sinner match [at the US Open].
The speed he had and the way he was able to finish shots that you thought were long gone [was amazing]. I kind of see myself there as quick to the wall, quick off the blocks, quick to the finish.
Who from the tennis world can you see doing well in the pool?
I just got to meet Mr. Isner, so I think John with his height could be incredible if he found a way to get off the blocks quickly. He’d be an amazing 200 freestyler.
Outside of that, I think I could see Taylor Fritz being a pretty good swimmer. He’s got the length, he’s got the core stability, we know that tennis players are crazy athletes. Maybe we’ll do a swim day with some of these tennis players one day and get them in the pool!