Isner Loses Latest Marathon

  • Last Updated: June 7 2012, 9:39 BST

Marathon man John Isner was at it again in the second round of the French Open but this time there was no happy ending as he was beaten 6-7 (2/7) 6-4 6-4 3-6 18-16 by Paul-Henri Mathieu.

Paul-Henri Mathieu: Won an epic encounter

It was the most games played in a singles match at Roland Garros in the tie-break era and the second longest clash ever after the two-day epic between Fabrice Santoro and Arnaud Clement in 2004 that lasted six hours and 33 minutes.

Clement had already made headlines after playing his last singles match at the tournament at the age of 34, so it was fitting his record should once again come into the spotlight.

Isner is, of course, most famous for his victory over Nicolas Mahut at Wimbledon two years ago that went all the way to 70-68 in the fifth set.

That took 11 hours and five minutes; this was somewhat speedier at five hours and 41 minutes but was certainly not short on drama, and provided a lovely moment for the winner, who missed the whole of 2011 after knee surgery.

Crucially for Isner he was not serving first in the decider, as he had been at Wimbledon, but he hung on gamely, saving three match points at 10-11 and two more at 14-15.

But Mathieu, ranked 261st in the world, kept pressing and, after seeing a sixth chance go begging, he finally took one, Isner firing a forehand just wide.

The Frenchman said: "I did not even believe I won the match. We played for more than five hours and I thought it was not going to finish.

"So I'm really happy with the win. First of all, I was happy to play again on this court, because I didn't play for so long. So first, I enjoyed the moment. But, of course, when you win, it's better."

The 30-year-old admitted he had had some tough days last year, adding: "Sometimes I was asking myself every day if I was going to play again. It was a really hard road to come back. So, for me, today, even if I play for five hours, this was really easy."

Mathieu was not just playing for himself, the Frenchman revealing a conversation with Mahut before the tournament. "I told him, I'm going to have revenge for you," he said.

Isner was in superb form earlier this season but has struggled on the European clay, and he had no complaints with the result, saying: "My inability to change what I was doing cost me the match, but he was better."