First, I have to give a nod to the incredible, unimaginable 70-68 fifth set win today by John Isner over Nicolas Mahut. 70-68 is… Well, there’s nothing that describes it.
In a multitude of records that will likely forever stand the test of time, Isner cracked 112 aces, Mahut 103 in their 11-hour, 5-minute epic which ended as Isner lined up and connected on a backhand passing shot to win 6-4, 3-6, 6-7(7), 7-6(3), 70-68.
All you can do is bow (or curtsy as if meeting the Queen) and clap your hands. It’s a match as they said on the tube that you will remember forever.
“It’s great,” Isner said. “I guess something Nic and I will share forever really. I don’t think I’ve ever said five words to the guy prior to our match. Not that he’s a bad guy. It is what it is. Now when I do see him in the locker room at other tournaments, we’ll always be able to share that. You know, like I said, I’m kind of glad it happened. Had I won in straight sets, I might be playing right now in my second round match.”
Isner’s second round opponent is Dutchman Thiemo De Bakker who waited an extra day to challenge the American. The two will lace it up tomorrow at noon.
In other matches, Rafael Nadal had his “survive and advance” moment today against the able Robin Haase. Haase was well in the driver’s seat when he seemed to injure or re-injure his knee early in the fourth set while up on Nadal two sets to one.
“Before the match, I tell you I know he going to be a very difficult opponent, because he’s a big server, difficult player,” Nadal said. “On this surface, is very difficult to stop him. I’m very happy to be in third round because probably today was difficult.”
Haase did something early in the fourth set to his knee. No trainer was called that I know of, but he was definitely in pain and limping, and the 23-year-old never recovered. Otherwise I think Nadal may have been heading for the exits as Haase was absolutely taking it to Nadal.
In some ways he played like Robin Soderling. The Swede ripped apart Marcel Gronollers as expected and more and more, it’s looking like he will beat Nadal in the quarterfinals should it happen.
Soderling is the only top player who really hasn’t been behind in the first two matches.
Also, with the Queen in the Royal Box, Andy Murray put on a good show winning in straights over Jarrko Nieminen. David Ferrer and Sam Querrey were both four set winners.
And a trio of French were able to do what Mahut could not, win in five sets. JW Tsonga, Jeremy Chardy and Julien Benneteau all scored five set wins on Thursday.
Looking ahead to Friday’s third round, Roger Federer should finally have a breather against Arnaud Clement. Novak Djokovic also should have very little difficulty with Albert Montanes.
In one of the better matches, lefties Jurgen Melzer and Feliciano Lopez battle. I think on grass Lopez gets the edge but Melzer’s been the hot player so I’ll pick the Austrian in that one.
My pick to still win the title, Lleyton Hewitt, is on against my man Gael Monfils. I think this is a tough match that could go five sets, but I think Lleyton’s grass court experience wins out. Monfils can usually keep it close for a set, maybe two, these days before he sputters.
And in the match of the day, Andy Roddick locks up with Phil Kohlschreiber. The German stunned Roddick a while back in Australia, but I don’t think he’s playing as well now as he did back then. And I think Roddick will be energized by Isner’s win so I’ll take Roddick in four.
I should also mention that Big John Isner is back to play De Bakker. Isner has to be mentally tapped but as long as the his arm is okay he can beat anybody, and I think he somehow beats De Bakker. But that’s a pure guess. I do know the match won’t be anywhere near 11 hours. Then again this Wimbledon has been unlike any other.
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