French Open 2011: John Isner Attempts To Overthrow His Previous Accolade

Antony HerbertAnalyst IIIMay 24, 2011

PARIS, FRANCE - MAY 24:  John Isner of USA serves during the men's singles round one match between Rafael Nadal of Spain and John Isner of USA on day three of the French Open at Roland Garros on May 24, 2011 in Paris, France.  (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

Whilst he will always be grateful for the attention garnered and history made with his mammoth first round Wimbledon victory last year, American tennis player John Isner had become very vocal in his desire to move on from the longest game ever witnessed on court.

You would probably be right in thinking that this was in part due to the rapid decline in his ranking which emerged from a comfortable second round defeat at SW19 and further months of under achievement.

He may not have defeated Rafael Nadal today at Roland Garros, yet he became the first player since Robin Soderling in 2009 to take a set against the No. 1-seeded Spaniard.

Not only this, but Isner used his powerful serve and dogged determination to take a surprise two set to one lead and increase the possibility of a massive upset.

Sadly, it was not to be as Nadal finished his first five-set match at the French Open in spectacular fashion. By breaking his American opponent's serve twice in the fourth set and once again in the fifth, he edged his way nervously into the second round.

I say nervously, but with not a single unforced error in the fourth set, and a consistent display of power and control in the fifth he adhered to his strong reputation in dominating his five set matches.

In retrospect though, the defense of his title now is most definitely not a certainty.

For Isner, on the other hand, maybe now we will see a return to form that will force him back into a seeded ranking. When he hit the headlines last year at SW19 many commented upon his visible desire which accompanied his solid performance and defiant stamina.

Such an improved ranking would then allow him to avoid similar first-round challenging fixtures when turning up to Grand Slam events. 

Successful runs deep into these Slams could force the notoriety of his match against Nicolas Mahut further to the back of our minds. It can instead be replaced by continuing impressive displays which could conclude with actual famous triumphs over the likes Nadal or Federer. 

He came close today, but could not break the Spaniard's serve, ultimately causing his downfall.

However you do feel now that it is within him to go all the way not so long into the future. This in part is an expectation born out of this five-set tussle with Rafael Nadal.