JOHN ISNER woke up to some good news and bad news from his hotel room in SW19 this morning.
On the positive side, the 23rd seed kept his nerve to overcome Nicolas Mahut 70-68 in the longest tennis match ever yesterday, lasting 11 hours and five minutes, spanning over three days.
But the bad news is that he must do it all again today when he takes on Thiemo De Bakker in his second round match.
American Isner will be forgiven for being a little leg weary against De Bakker after
collapsing to the ground in celebration of finally seeing clinching the 980th and last point of the match at the expense of his French opponent.
“When you come out and play a match like this, in an atmosphere like this, you don’t feel
tired really out there,” he said, “even though that’s exactly what we both were.”
The crowd packed Court 18 as play resumed just after 3.30pm with the scores locked at 59-59 in the deciding fifth set. As was the theme of the previous 118 games of the six-hour set, both men confidently held serve before Isner finally struck in game 138, finishing the match with a backhand winner down the line.
Isner, who took his world record ace count to 112, hailed the battling Mahut afterwards,
saying: “What more can you say? They guy’s an absolute warrior. It stinks someone had
to lose. To share this with him was an absolute honour. Maybe we’ll meet again somewhere down the road and it won’t be 70-68.”
Incredibly, Mahut, who fired down 103 aces himself, still well over the previous best of 78 set by Croatia’s Ivo Karlovic, was back on court later to play a doubles match, and felt just as honoured to be a part of history. “I’m just really thankful. It was amazing today,” he added. “John deserved to win. He served unbelievably, he’s a champion. It was really an honour to play the greatest match ever at the greatest place for tennis. It was very long but I think we both enjoyed it.”
It may be quickfire in comparison, but world No1 Rafael Nadal must have felt like he was in a marathon of his own yesterday after being taken to five sets by Robin Haase before booking his place in round three.
The second seed twice fell behind before coming through 5-7, 6-2, 3-6, 6-0, 6-3 against the big-serving Dutchman, ranked 151 in the world, meaning all three of the men’s top seeds have now been taken the distance this week.