Well! Was that enough first round excitement for you? John Isner got mighty close to pulling off the upset of the decade – taking Rafael Nadal to five sets in the defending champ’s first match of this year’s French Open. Rafa’s never played a fifth set at Roland Garros.
“I close to be out.” That’s what Rafa said he was thinking after going down two sets to one to the big match playin’ American. Really, I think the hair says it all:
“I never play fantastic the first round here. So it was nothing unexpected. . .It was tough.”
Well. . . it was just a little unexpected. The last and only time he was down two sets to one he lost in four to Robin Soderling.
Nice words from classy John. (Quote via the ATP):
“I had a feeling that if I put forth a good effort and gave it my all out there that I could give it a good shot and maybe even win the match. There’s no need to take the court if I don’t believe that. Really, what it came down to was the way he played in the fourth and fifth sets; I haven’t ever seen tennis like that. That’s why he is No. 1 in the world and one of the greatest players ever.”
You can tell by the video that Big John really put it out there. . .the guy is drained.
So what to make of this match? Really, I don’t see it as hurting Rafa’s confidence too much, as he strives to tie Bjorn Borg’s record of six French Open titles. Overcoming a stiff challenge to a quality, better-than-ranked super server and all around threatening player like John Isner is nothing to be ashamed of, if anything it should fire the Spaniard up. That’s my theory anyway. Though when you take his back to back losses to Djokovic into account – in the clay court Masters tournaments that are almost literally on his turf – I could understand Rafa fans getting a little jumpy. For now, I’m just excited that we’re getting some real intrigue this early on in the tournament.