By Pritha Sarkar
LONDON (Reuters) – There were no celebratory 4th of July fireworks from John Isner as Wimbledon’s ultra marathon man perished on Thursday and failed to join his 10 fellow Americans who have made it into round three.
Isner is likely to forever hold the distinction of contesting Wimbledon’s two longest ever matches — an 11-hour-five-minute first-round humdinger in 2010 and last year’s six-hour-36-minute semi-final against eventual runner-up Kevin Anderson — but his 2019 challenge fizzled out in the second round.
He belted down 34 aces but that still did not help him over the finishing line as his lack of match practice after being out of action for three months with a foot injury finally caught up with him in a 6-4 6-7(3) 4-6 6-1 6-4 defeat by Kazakhstan’s Mikhail Kukushkin.
“It stinks going out early in this event,” said Isner.
“The most important thing is my foot’s fine (as)…it had been a long time on the shelf. My fitness, definitely not there, there’s no doubt.”
While Isner lost his chance to repeat his run to the semi-finals, Sam Querrey, who made it to the last four in 2017, followed up his win over fifth seed Dominic Thiem with a much more smooth 6-3 6-2 6-3 win over Russian Andrey Rublev.
He was joined in the last 32 by Steve Johnson, Tennys Sandgren and Reilly Opelka, who knocked out Stan Wawrinka on Wednesday.
The four who have made it through will be hoping to continue the recent resurgence in American men’s tennis.
Although there have been American men in the semi-finals of the last two editions of the grasscourt major, before that there had been a seven-year barren run after Andy Roddick finished runner-up to Roger Federer in 2009.
The country reached its nadir — among the men — in 2013 when none of the 11 who entered the singles field survived the second round.
The success of the Williams sisters at the All England Club — who between them have won 12 singles titles since 2000 — means it has not been all doom and gloom for those representing the Stars and Stripes.
While Serena Williams is hoping come July 13 that she will be holding aloft the Venus Rosewater Dish for an eighth time, she has not exactly been the headline act at Wimbledon this year.
That honour goes to her 15-year-old compatriot Cori “Coco” Gauff who has been sucked into a Wimbledon whirlwind after she sent Serena’s elder sister Venus spinning out of the tournament on the opening day.
The 313th-ranked Gauff, the youngest ever qualifier to play in the main draw here, has not dropped a set over two matches this week and even had John McEnroe proclaiming that he would be shocked “if she was not number one in the world by the time she is 20”.
Serena and Gauff were joined by four more fellow Americans — Alison Riske, 2017 U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens, title holder Angelique Kerber’s conqueror Lauren Davis and Danielle Collins — in the last 32.
Wimbledon, though, is still under the spell of Coco-mania.
“It’s a remarkable story. For her to play well on this stage is very cool,” said Isner.
“To this point, (she is) the story of the tournament so far. So it’s very cool to see.”
(Reporting by Pritha Sarkar, editing by Clare Fallon)