Entries in John Isner (13)


In a record 6 hours, 36 minutes, Anderson wins Wimbledon semi

By Art Spander

WIMBLEDON, England — It was a fantastic match, an amazing match, and perhaps an unfortunate match, a tennis battle that, because Wimbledon has its own rules — no tiebreaker in the fifth set — and because Kevin Anderson and John Isner, old pals, served brilliantly and rallied courageously, may force a change at the All England Club.

Anderson won it, as you surely know, finding a place with Isner, the Marathon Man, as part of history and, with the remarkable 7-6 (6), 6-7 (5), 6-7 (9), 6-4, 26-24 semifinal victory Friday, finding a place in the final.

The two of them played 6 hours, 36 minutes, a record for both a semi and for Centre Court, but because Isner was involved in that ridiculous 11-hour, three-day match against Nicolas Mahut in 2018, not a record for the tournament.

Isner, 33, won that one, and leading two sets to one and seemingly always in front appeared destined to win this one and become the first American in a Wimbledon final since Andy Roddick in 2009. But it was not to be.

Anderson, a South African who lives in Florida and has applied for U.S. citizenship, came up with the key points, including one in a last set that itself lasted just five minutes short of three hours when he fell, lost his racket and hit a shot lefthanded.

Yet Anderson, 32, who spent time at the University of Illinois and has known Isner since John played at the University of Georgia, was not particularly effusive about reaching the final.

“I apologize,” Anderson said about his reaction. “John’s such a great guy. He’s really pushed me through my career, and I pushed myself harder because of the success he’s had.”

This was a battle between the sport’s big men, literally, the 6-foot-10 Isner and the 6-8 Anderson, two with huge serves and huge staying power. Every time it seemed one had the match, the other would rebound with a service ace or remarkable return. Isner had 53 aces, Anderson had 49.

But Anderson had the win and makes it to his second Grand Slam final. He was runner-up to Rafael Nadal at the 2017 U.S. Open.

Nadal and Novak Djokovic had to wait — and wait and wait — to start their semifinal because the Anderson-Isner match kept going. A fan screamed out during the first match, “Get off and let Rafa get on.”

But by the time Rafa and Novak got on, it was nearly dark, and the roof, which was completed before the 2009 tournament so play could go on in the rain, was closed and the lights turned on.

Djokovic and Nadal, both Wimbledon champions, had to wait impatiently in the locker room while Anderson and Isner went on and on, not knowing whether to grab some food or stay warmed up.

Isner never had been past the third round at Wimbledon until this year — someone nicknamed it “John’s House of Horrors” — and then, after winning the second third sets in tiebreakers, was one set from the final. He couldn’t make it.

“I’m just disappointed,” said Isner. “I came pretty close to making a Grand Slam final. I competed hard. I’m proud of that. But it stinks to lose. He was a little bit better in the end.

“One thing he was doing better was winning the big points. He broke me at four-all in the fourth set. I would like my chances in a tiebreaker.”

What he did have was a blister on his heel, but that didn’t seem to bother him as much as Anderson’s game.

“I don’t know what to say right now,” was Anderson’s comment when the BBC grabbed him moments after the final point. “It was really tough on both of us. I feel like it was a draw. I really feel for him.”

Anderson also feels that Wimbledon, alone among the four Grand Slams, has to forego playing a fifth set and go to a tiebreaker. In his BBC commentary, John McEnroe, a former Wimbledon champion, kept pushing that idea during the fifth set.

“Maybe this will make a difference,” said McEnroe. “It’s unfair the way it is now.”

Not only because the players wear down, but because the winning player feels the effects in his next match.

Isner was in agreement. “Maybe they play to 12-12, then go to a tiebreak,” he said.

And no, John didn’t want to talk about the 11-hour match eight years ago that ended 70-68. “I’m trying my hardest to forget it,” he said.

That will be easier than forgetting this one.


Isner on his Wimbledon marathon: ‘Whole world was captivated’

By Art Spander

WIMBLEDON, England — The plaque is still there, attached to the weathered bricks outside Court 18. John Isner saw it Thursday morning. Again.

“I didn’t stop and stare by any means,” he said. Others do. Thousands of others.

Court 18 is where Isner and Nicolas Mahut played, as the opening words of the plaque tell us, “The Longest Match.”

Not just at Wimbledon but anywhere, five sets and the match ending 70-68; 11 hours 5 minutes over three days, June 22-24, 2010. No tie-breaker in the fifth set at Wimbledon.

It was historic. It was magnificent. It was awful.

Mahut was so battered physically and mentally that it took him months to regain his strength, confidence and touch. And even the winner, Isner, had trouble recovering. Not that Isner has any regrets. 

“It was such a crazy match,” he said, “that the whole world was captivated by that match. I’m not exaggerating there.”

Not at all. Two guys played one match for three days? You've got to be kidding. We weren’t. Tennis had a landmark.

What Isner, now 33, had the last two days was another extended match, this time on Court 12, and this time much quicker, 3 hours 46 minutes. He beat Ruben Bemelmans of Belgium, 6-1, 6-4, 6-7 (6), 6-7 (3), 7-5.

He beat Bemelmans and that electronic linesperson, “Hawk-eye,” which on Wednesday blew a call just like a human and caused Isner to rant — until a few hours later he reflected.

“I mean, of course I’ve been in this situation before,” said Isner, about the rain that halted play in the fifth set Wednesday, “where a match was not finished, and I’m not talking about 2010.”

Although he said doesn’t mind everyone else talking about it, “because that match we played eight years ago was such a big event.”

Isner is 6-foot-10 — “If I knew I would be that tall,” said the man who was a high school center in North Carolina, “I would have stayed with basketball.” Instead he concentrated on tennis and became an All-American and NCAA tournament finalist at the University of Georgia. 

A man that tall ought to have a brilliant serve. Isner does. Against Bemelmans in the five sets, Isner recorded 64 aces, the third most ever in a match at Wimbledon. In the 11-hour match, Isner had 113 aces, Mahut 103. Which is why it lasted 11 hours. How do you break serve when you can’t return?

But like home run hitters, Isner has off days. His best at Wimbledon is the third round, where he is now. It’s not easy at his height to play those half volleys or to move around effortlessly. Not that in his career he hasn’t beaten Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic.

At nine, Isner is the highest seeded American in the men’s draw. He said he has developed a hang-loose attitude, not forcing the issue and remaining under control. In the French Open last month, he said “I just went out there with nothing to lose and played the big points well.”

It’s been unseasonably hot in Greater London, with temperatures reaching the mid 80s by late afternoon. The evenings are warm enough that a jacket is not needed. Maybe too warm for a man who was trying to sleep on Wednesday night while thinking of a match he already should have won.

“It was tough,” he conceded, “All the stuff is running through my head. I’m half asleep. I’m not really asleep. We have all been there. You have something weighing on you.

“But you know I didn’t feel tired today. I had a lot of adrenaline running through my body. The third day of my really long match in 2010, I thought I would feel tired and I didn’t. This is nothing like that but pretty similar.”

So the words don’t make a lot of sense. First the anger about Hawk-eye, then the rain, now the questions. Let’s return to the match against Mahut.

“After it finished,” said Isner, “it will go down in history, and I was a part of it. So I think especially the casual tennis fan, that’s what they know of me, and that’s fine. I like to think that since then I’ve done a lot of good stuff in my career to shed that lasting image.”

Good stuff, but so far nothing else worthy of a plaque on Wimbledon’s walls.


Bleacher Report: What's Causing American Tennis' Historically Poor Performance at Wimbledon 2014?

By Art Spander
Featured Columnist

LONDON — Madison Keys took her leave Monday without hitting a single shot. Her left leg was too sore, so she withdrew. She was the last American woman at Wimbledon. Bye-bye, Miss American forehand.

A short while later, John Isner departed, losing a four-setter to one of this summer's better players, Feliciano Lopez. Isner was the last American. Period. Sing a few bars of the “Star Spangled Banner,” and it will serve as a requiem.

Read the full story here.

Copyright © 2014 Bleacher Report, Inc.


RealClearSports: American Revolution at U.S. Open

By Art Spander

NEW YORK -- Andy Roddick called it a healthy jealousy. It looks more like an American revolution. The country that couldn't do anything right in tennis has done very little wrong for the last few days. At last, the U.S. Open is no longer closed to U.S. male players.

The sport still belongs to those from across the Atlantic - Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer - until proved differently. But here we are into the second week of the Open, and four of the 16 men remaining are Americans.

Read the full story here.

© RealClearSports 2011

Newsday (N.Y.): Isner wins Wimbledon rematch with Mahut

By Art Spander
Special to Newsday

WIMBLEDON, England -- This time, it was just a tennis match, not a marathon. Wimbledon won't be putting up a plaque for John Isner-Nicolas Mahut II as was the case for their historic and extended meeting last year, and Isner, for one, is pleased.

The 6-9 Isner needed only 2 hours, 3 minutes to beat Mahut, a Frenchman, 7-6 (4), 6-2, 7-6 (6), Tuesday. Or 9 hours, 2 minutes earlier than in 2010.

That match started on Tuesday and finished Thursday, Isner taking the fifth set, 70-68. A plaque on the wall of Court 18 notes the time and games.

The sequel was played on the newly remodeled Court 3, after three other matches, and started around 6:30 p.m. There are no lights on the outside courts at Wimbledon.

"Chances are if I don't win the third set," Isner said, "we're not going to finish the match and we're talking about a second day."

When an announcer from the BBC asked if that would have brought back good memories, Isner said: "I don't think good memories, long memories. I'm glad they put us on Court 3. I don't think they want to tarnish the legacy of Court 18."

Isner, worn down in that 11-hour spectacle, had no chance against the Netherlands' Thiemo de Bakker the next day, losing, 6-0, 6-3, 6-2.

"It was a huge relief to put this one behind me," Isner said of the 2011 match. "I was a lot fresher. I was sort of lucky. His knee was bothering him."

Isner is known for his big serve, but he and Mahut each ended up with eight aces.

"Obviously, you want to be through to the next round," said Isner, who is No. 47 in the ATP rankings. "It's a nice feeling. Unlike last year, I don't have to sleep on this year's match."

Asked how he would compare the two, Isner, 26, said: "Nothing is going to live up to that match. Conditions were probably a little slower this time. I came out a little tight. I haven't played a grass-court match in a full year."

At the end, Isner leaned over the net and gave Mahut a hug.

"It was tough when someone had to lose the match last year,'' Isner said. "This time, he had nothing to hang his head about. One thing: I definitely don't want to play him in the first round again."

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