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By Richard Pagliaro | Wednesday, June 29, 2022


John Isner beat Andy Murray for the first time in nine meetings then credited the former No. 1 for inspiring him to the Wimbledon third round.

Photo credit: Getty

John Isner knows all about milestones and misery at Wimbledon.

Winless in eight prior meetings against Andy Murray, Isner torched futility with one of the most commanding Grand Slam performances of his career. 

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An inspired Isner blasted 36 aces and did not drop serve sending Murray to the earliest exit of his SW19 career with a superb 6-4, 7-6(4), 6-7(3), 6-4 Wimbledon second-round triumph.

It was Isner's first win in nine career meetings vs. the former world No. 1 and undoubtedly one of his finest major matches.

“At the age I’m at now, I need to relish these moments,” Isner said immediately afterward. “This was one of the biggest wins of my career just given the atmosphere, it was fantastic – you guys were awesome and super respectful so I appreciate that.”

Murray didn't try to hide the hurt afterward.

"I feel disappointed right now," Murray told the media. "Obviously I wanted to do well here. I love playing at Wimbledon, a surface that I feel like I can still compete with the best guys on. It definitely, definitely hurts."

The 6'10" Isner's massive serve demands attention, but tonight the former all American showed shrewd all-court skills against one of the game's most clever players. Isner not only thwarted one of tennis' top returners, he showed soft hands and a fine flair for front-court angles winning 43 of 61 trips at net, while Murray, a fine volleyer himself, managed just 11 net points. 

"The most impressive thing for me was the serving," Murray told the media afterward. "Then there was a few periods, I think it was in the second set when I had a few chances, he hit a lot of very good sort of low volleys, kind of drop volleys, which he can volley well. I mean, he's a very competent volleyer, has done extremely well in doubles. But usually against guys of his height, when you get the ball down low, it's tricky for them down there.

"There was a period in the match, at the end of the second set, where he came up with some really, really good volleys and tough shots around the net. That was a key part of the match really."

One night after 115th-ranked Harmony Tan stunned 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams on Centre Court, Isner brought the thunder and thoughtful play sending former world No. 1 Murray out in the second round for the first time in 14 career appearances.

Asked afterward if this could be his farewell to Wimbledon, Murray said if he's healthy, he plans to play on.

"It depends on how I am physically. Physically I feel good, then we'll try to keep playing," Murray said. "But it's extremely difficult with the problems I've had with my body in the last few years to make long-term predictions about how I'm going to be even in a few weeks' time, never mind in a year's time.

"If physically I'm in a good place, yeah, I will continue to play. But it's not easy to keep my body in optimal condition to compete at the highest level."

On this night, Isner did everything right including displaying pure class in his post-match interview on Centre Court.

Isner, who edged Nicolas Mahut in the longest match in tennis history at the 2010 Wimbledon, played some of his most dynamic tennis beating Murray then praised the two-time Olympic gold-medal champion as a better player and an inspiration to all players.

“It’s no secret that I am most definitely not a better tennis player than Andy Murray,” Isner told Centre Court fans afterward. “I might have just been a little bit better than him today. It was an incredible honor to play him on this court in front of this crowd.

“To play as well as I did against one of our greatest players ever, was a huge accomplishment for me. He's a massive inspiration to each one of us in the locker room, and we're so lucky to still have him around.”

Thirteen American men made it to The Championships second round, most for the USA since 1995. Isner is through to the third round for the fifth time and first time since his epic 2018 run to the semifinals.

Isner’s 7-6(6), 6-7(5), 6-7(9), 6-4, 26-24 loss to Kevin Anderson in the 2018 Wimbledon semifinals – which lasted 6 hours 36 minutes – was the second-longest singles match in Grand Slam history and the third-longest singles match overall. It was also the secnd-longest match at Wimbledon – after Isner’s 11 hour 5 minute victory against Nicolas Mahut in 2010 – and the longest match ever contested on Centre Court.

The former Georgia Bulldog reflected on his marathon win over Mahut—which earned both men's gear a spot in the International Tennis Hall of Fame—with both pride and pain and ultimately gratitude to still be making major noise on Centre Court.

“Well, a lot of people asked me about that match in 2010. They ask me about the great memories I have for that match, but it's more nightmares," Isner said. "Being on the court for 11 hours, really I think this could be at the very top for me, this event is always. of course, is super special to every one of us on tour.”

“I actually haven’t played many matches on Centre Court, I just haven’t been good enough to get out here but I was lucky enough to play Andy in the second round and get to play in this incredible atmosphere. Hopefully I can get back on this court and see what I can do."

Next up for Isner is talented Italian Jannik Sinner. The 10th-seeded Sinner stopped Sweden's Mikael Ymer 6-4, 6-3, 5-7, 6-2. Sinner said he's expecting a serving storm from Isner.

"It's for sure a very, very tough match, especially here on grass. He serves well," Sinner said of Isner. "Hopefully I can read a little bit his serve, but it's one of the toughest challenge, returning John's serve, so yeah, it would be a very tough match.

"There are for sure some important moments, you know, especially when he's serving, so for sure I try my best. I will be not so much rhythm, so let's see."


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