(August 31, 2023) FLUSHING, NY – Thirty-eight-year-old John Isner’s singles career is over, and it ironically ended with him losing a fifth set tiebreaker to fellow American Michael Mmoh who rallied from two sets down for the win, 3-6, 4-6, 7-6(3), 6-4, 7-6 (10-7) in the second round on Thursday afternoon on Grandstand Court at the US Open.
”It’s tough. I like to think I work as hard as I can,” Isner said with tears in his eyes to the crowd after the match.
Isner, currently ranked outside of the Top 100 at 157, needed a wild card to get into the main draw.
“Of course, I did take pride in being the best I could be. I always did want to be the No. 1 American. I’d be lying if I told you I didn’t. I never felt like there was this huge, enormous burden on me to try to get there.
“When I was the top American, to be quite honest with you, American men’s tennis wasn’t what it was in the ’90s — or early 2000s, excuse me.
“Again, being the top American, I don’t know how many years it was, just maintaining my ranking for a very long time, is something I’m very proud of and I took great pride in the preparation it took day in, day out, year after year after year. I really truly enjoyed that.”
“I think I’ve overachieved,” the 6’ 10” Isner explained. “I never imagined myself having this much success for this long.
“Mentioned in one of my statements, of course there’s so many matches I wish I could have back, but I prepared in my mind as best as I possibly could for 17 years.
“I don’t have many regrets, that’s for sure.”
Mmoh, ranked No. 89 in the world, will face Brit Jack Draper for a place in the fourth round. Draper beat an appeared to be injured No. seed Hubert Hurkacz 6-2, 6-4, 7-5.
Mmoh to media about the win: “Surreal. You know, I’ve had probably bigger wins ranking-wise in my career, but nothing was more special than today.
“You know, just the atmosphere out there in the fifth, that Grandstand stadium was rocking. Obviously the majority of the crowd was against me, but it was still surreal feeling to play that fifth-set breaker against a legend like John Isner.”
“Even before we played I always felt he had the best serve of all time, Mmoh said. “I think he’s the best server of all time. So with that, you know, it’s a huge challenge, even on your serve just because you know if you go down a break, that could be the set right there.
“And that’s how the first two sets went. I felt that pressure. I felt that dynamic of, you know, him maybe kind of not really giving me a rhythm, and then all of a sudden 3-4 in the first set he’s making six returns in a row and it’s kind of surprising you, and then you feel that pressure because you know if you go down a break, it’s basically set over.
“Then in the third set I just kind of told myself let’s get to a breaker. Let’s worry about my own service game. You know, let’s just compete.
“You know, luckily I was able to get it to a breaker and then obviously win the breaker. Then the only break of the match came early in the fourth. Then, you know, once you’re in the fifth set, anything can happen, and it’s just about, you know, who wants it more.”
“I think John is one of the best guys on tour, one of the nicest guys on tour. I don’t know if he gets the credit for that but he’s an absolute standup, Mmoh said.”
Mmoh revealed to media what he told Isner at the net at the end of the match: “I just told him congrats on an amazing career. You know, to be top 20 for 10 years in a row, you know, that’s an achievement that a lot of people would dream of. His longevity for a guy that big, it’s not easy to do. There’s a lot of injuries that usually come with a body like that.
“But, you know, he’s been able to stay healthy and he’s been able to rack up Ws for almost two decades. I just told him, Congrats. I told him how good of a person he is, too.”
More to follow….