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Post Isner comes to Atlanta looking to build on his McAvoy moment

Monday July 19, 2010

My God, John, it was…Well, it’s immortal!

Some cold, matter-of-fact tennis stat sheet will note that American and #23 seed John Isner was bounced unceremoniously from the second round of Wimbledon 2010 in straight sets by an unseeded Dutchman. In fact, if we get right down to it, Isner struggled to get past the first round against a player rated over a hundred places lower. Under any other circumstances, it would have been a pretty disappointing result for a seeded player hoping to make a splash on the grass surface of Wimbledon.

It was the greatest fifth set of all time.

Of course that struggle to get past the first round was an epic, record-breaking feat of endurance and will. With Federer’s fade leading to a finish lacking much drama, Isner’s first round win was the story of the tournament. To the casual sports fan who might only know a few of the big names of tennis, the saga that developed on that Wednesday in June and took over both sides of the Atlantic on an already-memorable sports day will still be fresh.

No one’s going to remember Wimbledon ten years from now, who won…but they’ll remember your 70-68!

Isner’s hardly an unknown, especially in the disparate universes of professional tennis and Georgia Bulldog athletics. If you remember that he led the Dawgs to the 2007 NCAA title, you were already familiar with Isner and his menacing serve. If you didn’t have to look up (like I just did) the fact that Andy Murray was one of the finalists in this year’s Australian Open, you already knew that Isner was an up-and-coming American who was knocking on the door of the world’s top 20 players.

Isner wasn’t as well-known to the collective American sporting consciousness, and yet there he was: on the same day Landon Donovan and his mates forced even the most curmudgeonly anti-soccer people to share in a moment of national joy, this guy in Nike garb and a Bulldog shirt soon had top billing. Letterman and daytime TV soon followed. He even landed an ESPY for Best Record-Breaking Performance.

But with a long career ahead of him Isner has larger ambitions than being remembered just as that guy who won the match that would never end. “A lot of people know who I am now, which is great, but now it’s up to me to make a name for myself besides this match, and I know I can do that,” he said. That process begins as he heads to the summer hardcourt series leading up to the U.S. open at the end of August.

Isner is in Atlanta this week for the Atlanta Tennis Championships. The tournament runs from today, the 19th, through the 25th at the Atlanta Athletic Club in John’s Creek. He’ll join a field that includes Andy Roddick and Lleyton Hewitt as major tennis returns to the AAC after a nine-year absence. Isner’s first match is a doubles match scheduled for Monday evening, and he’ll begin singles play later in the week.

For tickets, scores, and more information, visit this site.

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