“Sometimes it just takes us bigger guys longer to figure it out” – Eubanks recalls Isner pep talk that kept him going

The 27-year-old American is through to the second round of his home Grand Slam where he will meet Frenchman Benjamin Bonzi

Christopher Eubanks at the 2023 National Bank Open Christopher Eubanks at the 2023 National Bank Open

Until the 2022 US Open, Chris Eubanks had never won a main draw singles match at a Grand Slam. The American got that monkey off his back in New York last year and has gone strength to strength from there. He broke into the top 100 for the first time in March, then won his first ATP singles title in June in Mallorca, and followed it up with a first Grand Slam quarter-final at Wimbledon.

Those results helped him earn a seeding – No 28 – at the 2023 US Open where on Monday the 27-year-old 6ft 7inch American defeated Kwon Soon-woo 6-3, 6-4, 0-6, 6-4 to advance to the second round.

Speaking in his press conference post the victory, Chris “The Rocket” Eubanks, a late bloomer by modern tennis standards, credited a pep talk by fellow big-server John Isner that helped him persevere during his struggling days.

“I think I had a conversation with (John) Isner some years ago in Acapulco in which I was pretty frustrated with my game, had not been progressing as quickly as I would have liked. One thing he told me, Bigger guys with bigger games, sometimes it just takes us longer to figure it out,” Eubanks told the media in New York.”

John Isner, Dallas 2023
John Isner, Dallas 2023 | © Icon SMI / Panoramic

“He reassured me, You’re going to be fine, don’t worry about it. I think at that time I was ranked around 180, 170, something like that. He said, Listen, big guys, big games, you got to figure out when to push the envelope a little bit, when to dial back. He really, really reassured me I was going to be fine. I think kind of hearing those words from him, a guy who’s kind of been there, granted he progressed through the challengers a lot quicker than I did, but just kind of practicing with him and hearing his input really I think gave me a little bit extra push to kind of know it’s going to work out, I just got to kind of stay consistent.”

I think he’d be proud of today.

Chris Eubanks on actor and friend Jamie Foxx

Isner, who will retire after the US Open, is not the only famous American by Eubanks‘ side. The American also has a well-documented friendship with actor Jamie Foxx and he hoped that the Hollywood superstar and tennis buff would be proud of his performance on Monday.

“He (Jamie Foxx) is a sports fanatic. He loves sports in general. Tennis being one of those sports that he has an affinity towards. Something I didn’t really know till I got to meet him and he started name dropping players from the ’80s, ’70s, players he grew up watching. I know he’s a massive sports fan, tennis fan. He’s a really, really good friend. I think he’d be proud of today,” the Atlanta native said.

Eubanks will next face Frenchman Benjamin Bonzi for a spot in the third round of his home Grand Slam for the first time in his career. And with the increase in his public profile and popularity, Eubanks wants to enjoy the opportunities that come with that while continuing to work hard on his game.

“I think there’s a balance between the two. I’ve worked extremely hard to try to get to this point in my career in which I have the opportunity to do those things. There’s a fine line between saying I want to stay focused and not get too caught up in the extracurriculars, but I think also one thing I started to do over this past year is kind of enjoy everything a lot more,” the American said. “When I have these opportunities and I can honestly say it won’t interfere with my tennis, preparation, or training, I’m going to take it, I’m going to do it. I spent a lot of years on the non-glamorous side of professional tennis. Now if I get the chance to do some fun stuff, I’m going to take that opportunity.”

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