November 15, 2018 / 12:15 AM / a month ago

Emotional Isner says hard to play after death of friend

LONDON (Reuters) - American John Isner said it had been “very very difficult” to focus on his second match at the ATP Finals against Marin Cilic after learning of the death of his close friend and former strength coach Kyle Morgan.

Tennis - ATP Finals - The O2, London, Britain - November 14, 2018 John Isner of the U.S. during his group stage match against Croatia's Marin Cilic Action Images via Reuters/Andrew Couldridge

Morgan, a 35-year-old former Florida University football player, was found dead on Monday after being reported missing by his family.

“Found out two nights ago after I lost to Novak (Djokovic),” Isner, 33, told reporters after his 6-7(2) 6-3 6-4 defeat — his second loss on his debut in the tournament. “It’s difficult, very difficult. Got to go out there and play.

“When I left college, I worked out exclusively with Kyle for probably seven years. That’s four, five times a week for seven years. We lived together, as well.

“Certainly very close. It’s devastating not just for me, but for a whole bunch of people. He was a fantastic guy.”

Earlier the world number 10 had posted a message on his Instagram page, alongside a photo of the two of them.

“It’s hard to explain how much I loved you and how instrumental you were in making me who I am today. My heart and everyone who knew you is absolutely broken,” Isner wrote.

“You touched so many lives in the best possible way.

“Despite our crazy differences, we forged an inseparable bond. You were the most knowledgeable strength coach ever and the years we spent in the gym together allowed me to compete at the highest level.

“Kyle Steven Morgan, I love you bro. Gone but never forgotten.”

Isner will face Germany’s Alexander Zverev in the 02 Arena on Friday still with an outside chance of reaching the semi-finals.

Editing by Greg Stutchbury

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