Isner: No rest for the weary
June, 24, 2010
By Kamakshi Tandon | ESPN.com
WIMBLEDON, England -- Jo-Wilfried Tsonga winning 10-8 in the fifth? Ho-hum. Rafael Nadal taken to five sets over two and a half hours? Peanuts. Sam Querrey serving 26 aces in a four-set win? Pfft.
The tennis world is still readjusting its sights after three days when numbers lost all meaning as John Isner and Nicolas Mahut contested a 70-68 fifth set in the first round of the Wimbledon tournament.
There's little chance that anything else during this tournament -- or this year -- will top what happened on Court 18 from Tuesday through Thursday, so now it's just a matter of playing out the fortnight to find out who wins, right?
In any case, there's no rest for the weary. Isner must return on Friday for the fourth day in a row, having completed his three-day, 11-hour-and-5-minute epic less than 24 hours earlier. The newly famous American will play the first match on Court 5 against Thiemo de Bakker.
"Not often do I steal the show from a guy like [Roger] Federer, but I think I did yesterday," Isner said.
The question now is, can he possibly recover? The good news is that de Bakker also had a long first-round match, which went to 16-14 in the fifth set. The bad news is that Isner went a day and 108 games longer.
Isner is confident he can handle the turnaround. "I'm going to do everything necessary to get myself ready for tomorrow," he said. "I know my opponent; he's not the freshest one, either. Not nearly [as tired as] me, but I definitely think I can win."
Nadal, who could face Isner in the fourth round, points out that the overnight delay on Wednesday helped Isner's chances by delaying his second-round match by a day.
"I think the winner of the match was lucky to not finish the match yesterday," Nadal said. "Today they didn't play as long as they did yesterday. So they still have one day.
"Sure, it's a little bit disadvantage, but would be worse if they finished the match yesterday night at 9 because they had to play today [Thursday]."
Querrey, Isner's doubles partner, thinks Isner is up to it.
"I think he'll be OK. He seemed fine today, and he's got [almost] a full 24 hours to recover," Querrey said. "Luckily the points on grass are pretty short, and with his serve the points on grass are even shorter."
Despite the length of the match, Isner did not have to play many extended rallies against Mahut, and Friday's match between 6-foot-9 Isner and 6-4 de Bakker is also likely to be a shootout.
The talented, young Dutchman gave Tsonga a fright at the French Open, so there could be another tight battle if both players are in reasonable shape to play.
After that match ends -- assuming it ends -- Isner is expected back on the court later in the day to play a doubles match alongside Querrey.
Querrey had to leave Court 18 to play his second-round match when Isner and Mahut were locked at 65-65.
"I heard the crowd go crazy, so I knew it was over," he said. "I had to wait 'til the changeover, and then I saw it scroll across the board.
"I was relieved. I wanted it to end. And I was just really happy for John."
And what of Mahut? He also returns Friday, resuming his doubles match, which -- you guessed it -- was suspended overnight for darkness on the same Court 18 on Thursday.
"I just want to come back on Court 18 and win this time," he said.