Commentary

Izzy's run ends, but legend still grows

Updated: June 25, 2010, 1:29 PM ET
By Greg Garber | ESPN.com

WIMBLEDON, England -- John Isner's strapping serve was broken only once in the 183 games of his first-round match with Nicolas Mahut.

On Friday, after playing the longest match in tennis history over the three previous days, Isner's serve was broken once, twice and three times -- in the first set -- by Thiemo de Bakker.

The Isner story ended as many feared it would: badly, even a little sadly. He lost 6-0, 6-3, 6-2. Although his first match went a record 11 hours and 5 minutes, this one was over in the blink of an eye -- 74 minutes.

Isner now has the distinction of playing the longest and the shortest matches on the men's side of this Wimbledon tournament. It was the first time Isner has ever been "bageled" in a Grand Slam match.

Later, Isner predictably described himself as "low on fuel" and allowed that he "really didn't have a chance" to win. He complained of a sore neck and never seemed to get loose.

The 6-foot-9 American's serve was broken seven of 12 times and, after rendering a record 113 aces against Mahut, Isner had zero versus de Bakker.

[+] EnlargeJohn Isner
Clive Brunskill/Getty ImagesShockingly, John Isner had no aces in his second-round match.

"I didn't know that," Isner said, adding that it had probably never happened to him in a match.

After his marathon match ended Thursday, Isner and Mahut received several gifts from the All England Club in an on-court ceremony. On Friday, Isner took home another parting gift from IBM, the scoring people. Upon further review, Isner was credited with one more ace from his first-round match -- making the all-time record just a little harder to break going forward.

Although Isner had maintained that he would play doubles with Sam Querrey -- they were the No. 12 seeds -- no one was terribly surprised when he withdrew after his singles match.

Isner's singles match was the first scheduled match on Court 5, at noon, prompting some critics to complain that All Wimbledon Club officials might have been kinder and gentler putting him on several hours later.

"I think he got jobbed, yes," said U.S. Davis Cup captain Patrick McEnroe. "But I also don't think it would have mattered. It looked like he had nothing out there."

McEnroe wasn't the only one pitying Isner.

"Poor guy," said ESPN analyst Luke Jensen. "What else could he do? It's funny the expectations that people had. He could have played last -- he could have played next week, and it wouldn't have made any difference."

How did Isner's right shoulder feel after three days of issuing nonstop rocket serves and forehands?

"There's not really much pain," Isner reported. "It's just kind of dead. You know, not much pop."

His opponent, de Bakker -- who watched much of that spectacular 70-68 fifth set from a prone position on the trainer's table and had all of Thursday off -- said he felt sorry for Isner.

"Of course," said the 21-year-old from the Netherlands. "I mean, 70-68; I mean, it's pretty sick. When you're watching live score, something, you see the results. Then you see 70-68. I think if people at home who didn't know it, watching it, I mean, they'll probably think it's a mistake."

Isner said that his legs were "dead" and that he was suffering from a serious blister on the little toe of his size-15 right foot. The 25-year-old, who played for the University of Georgia, knows that no matter what he achieves going forward, his name will forever be associated with his marathon match.

"I guess it showed how good of a competitor I am," Isner said. "Same goes for Nicolas. The way we both competed out there was pretty stellar. It's something that is going to stick with me for a long time, and rightfully so."

Greg Garber is a senior writer for ESPN.com.

Greg Garber

Writer, Reporter
Greg Garber joined ESPN in 1991 and provides reports for NFL Countdown and SportsCenter. He is also a regular contributor to Outside the Lines and a senior writer for ESPN.com.