The top seed has come close to lifting the title, beaten by Kei Nishikori as part of his extraordinary four-title run and a return to a hard court might just be what the doctor ordered after crashing out of top seed duties on the clay in Quito.
His run to the final in 2014 was his best result here, and this is a field of big servers, but the court should be more to his liking. It has been a steady but unremarkable year for the veteran Croat this year – can he chance his fortunes?
This year’s field could see a home champion installed for the first time since Andy Roddick in 2011, and Isner’s closest brush with the silverware came the year before, where he lost to compatriot Sam Querrey.
This has been a steady tournament for the big server – and he has not really set his season alight yet – he has yet to have back to back wins in 2017.
The only person in the field to have won this title, Querrey enjoyed a little resurgence after his upending of Novak Djokovic in the third round at Wimbledon last year. He came unstuck in the third round of the Australian Open against Andy Murray and came up with the goods in Davis Cup (as did Isner).
The last couple of years Querrey has made the semi-finals – twice losing to eventual champion Nishikori. Without the four-time champion in the field, this looks good for Querrey to have a deep run.
Having started the year quite promisingly, Johnson exited the Australian Open in the second round, and hits Memphis in a hope of trying to emulate his best performance of the 2015 quarter-finals. Last year though he was ousted in his opener by wildcard Taylor Fritz.
He ought to feel confident of at least matching that quarter-final run.
The Memphis Open takes place between 13-19 February
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