Whether he wins Wimbledon or not. Hell, whether or not he wins his next match, John Isner is now. He’s not only the new face of American tennis. But he’s suddenly – okay, not suddenly, but after a 11-hour, 5-minute (over two days) 6–4, 3–6, 6–7(7), 7–6(3), 70–68 victory over Nicolas Mahut in the opening round of Wimbledon, the longest match in the history of tennis – the guy everyone expects to rescue the sport from near certain oblivion in the U.S.
I know. It’s a lot to ask of a 25-year-old Bulldog (Georgie, that is) with a middling singles record (67-53) a just one singles title in three years as a pro.
Just last fall, Melanie Oudin (irony alert: another Georgian!) was anointed rescuer of the distaff side of the sport when she ousted Maria Sharapova and reached the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open. Haven’t heard a peep from her since.
Isner is certainly capable of being a breakthrough player, though he’s only gone as far as the fourth round in any major. Despite his size (6’9″, 245) he’s been a bit beneath the radar to all except the smattering of tennis aficionados still lingering about.
From here on out, his matches will be tracked with wide interest. (MF has a story on him in our August issue, on newsstands soon!) And he’ll no doubt be a “show court” attraction at the U.S. Open in the fall. Let’s hope by then he’ll not only be known as tennis’ marathon man, but a young American on the rise with the results to show for it.