LONDON — While most Canadians figure to be rooting for Milos Raonic in his Wimbledon quarterfinal, one notable Canuck could be supporting his opponent.
Pittsburgh Penguins star Sidney Crosby hit the court for a practice session with American John Isner — Raonic’s next foe on Wednesday — at the All England Club before Wimbledon.
"Actually got him out on the court for 15-20 minutes, got to meet him, talk to him and to see what he does to stay in shape," the six-foot-10 Isner told reporters. "That dude works his tail off. That’s why he’s the best hockey player in the world."
Isner was impressed with Crosby’s tennis game.
"He was pretty good," Isner said, adding Crosby plays tennis only recreationally.
"He actually was a little bit nervous, I think … Once he started releasing his forehand, he started hitting the ball much better. He’s strong as an ox. It’s crazy how strong his lower body is."
While Isner is known as a Carolina Panthers football fan, he has been talking hockey all week at Wimbledon.
Since saving two match points in a second-round win over Ruben Bemelmans, he hasn’t lost a set.
Isner was asked if it’s silly to feel like he’s playing with house money.
"It’s not silly it all. You see it in — it’s not just tennis. You see it in all sports," Isner said.
"Look at the Washington Capitals. They were down 2-0 in the first-round series against Columbus, lost two games at home, won Game 3 in overtime on the road and they were off from there (eventually winning the Stanley Cup this season)."
The Isner-Raonic matchup features two booming servers. Isner has the top service rating on the ATP Tour in the past year, while Raonic is fifth.
"There’s a good chance it’s going to come down to a few points here and there," Isner said. "Strength on strength for sure."
Meanwhile, the British team of Harriet Dart and Jay Clarke upset the top-seeded duo of Ottawa’s Gabriela Dabrowski and Mate Pavic of Crotia 6-3, 6-4 in third-round mixed doubles action.