John Isner, an American professional tennis player who currently resides in Tampa, Florida finds himself in a lot of long tennis matches against French athletes. Two years ago at a match during the 2010 Wimbledon Champions Isner found himself the victor in an 11 hour, 5 minute match against Nicolas Mahut (the longest match in the history of the sport) and this evening in Paris Isner got himself involved in another marathon match. Today’s match may have been just under half as long as that record-smashing match, clocking in at 5 hours and 41 minutes (with the final set lasting an amazing 2 hours, 28 minutes) but it was long enough to qualify as the second longest match in French Open history.
For the second time in three days an American favorite lost to a French national on the Roland Garros clay. Isner the #11 ranked player by ATP standings was defeated in today’s match 6-7 (2), 6-4, 6-4, 3-6, 18-16 by Paul-Henri Mathieu, the #275 ranked player according to the same rankings. Mathieu is known for his ability to hit heavy groundstrokes and he has an above-average topspin forehand, but in today’s match the biggest difference was just flat out conditioning. To play a tennis match for almost 6 hours takes a lot of stamina and intestinal fortitude and he just had more left in the tank at the end than Isner did. Mathieu, who has been recovering from a knee injury he suffered last year, said after the match “I play tennis to live moments like these”, and Sir, you deserved it today.
Isner was the last American man standing at the French Open. Eight American men started in this tournament and after qualifier Jesse Levine fell earlier in the day to Milos Raonic of Canada, Isner became America’s last chance to win the French Open. Unfortunately for US Tennis, Isner committed 98 unforced errors in the match today and his 41 aces were not enough to overcome those mistakes. His opponent Mathieu was able to finally close the match out on his 7th match point of the third set, as Isner returned a forehand wide to end the match. This loss takes the American drought in Grand Slam events to 34 as Andy Roddick’s 2003 victory at the US Open remains the last time someone from the United States won of tennis four major tournaments.