John Isner already cemented his reputation for being marathon man due to his record setting 70–68 in the fifth set defeat of Nicolas Mahut at 2010 Wimbledon, but he added to it Roland Garros when he fell in an epic 7-5, 7-6(4), 4-6, 6-7(10), 10-8 contest to 12th seed Tommy Haas in the third round on the Bull Ring.
The 19th seeded American played his heart out, fighting off 12 match points in the fourth set. He appeared to be on his way to victory up 4-1 in the fifth set, but Haas picked up his spirit and level and managed to break the big-serving Isner back to 4-3. Isner held a match point at 5-4 with Haas serving, but he dumped a backhand into the net in a hotly contested rally
At that point, the 35-year-old Haas’ appeared to be more fresh– who had played another four-hour match in a victory over Ryan Harrison on Friday – and when Isner wasn’t bombing serves or crushing an occasional forehand that he could reach, it was the German who was controlling most of the points from the baseline. Finally, Haas broke the cramping Isner and then sealed the match when the American erred on a backhand.
Isner said he liked his chances going into the fifth set, but said his body began to fail him. He also gave credit to Haas
“Tommy he stayed the course, and he deserves the win,” he said. “I fought a good fight. It was the only thing I can ask out of myself is to compete. Even down two sets to Love, I still was fitting and it helped me. I got it all the way back to up 4‑1 in the fifth set. I can’t ask for a better scenario thereafter being down two sets to Love. In hindsight, probably would have been better to lose in straight sets, because I feel terrible right now. But I’ll recover.”
Maybe so, and he will do it at home. Isner won’t stay in Europe and go right into he grass court season. He likes his mom’s home cooking so it’s likely he’ll head back to North Carolina. He’s unsure when his toes will first touch the grass, but he could use at least one warm-up tourney to Wimby as he has never played very well there, despite his 2010 first round heroics. Jack Sock is headed to Nottingham to play a Challenger, as is Ryan Harrison, who played fairly well in his loss to Isner.