“Game, set, match,” the Wimbledon chair umpire intoned. Then he took a
deep breath: “6-4, 3-6, 6-7, 7-6, 70-68.” After three days and 11-plus
hours, the scoreboard froze and John Isner was quite literally the last
man standing. Understandably exhausted, he lost his next match, but by
then “Izzy” was a cult hero. He jetted back across the Atlantic to go
through the media car wash, serving up David Letterman’s Top Ten List
and throwing out the first pitch at a Yankees game. “All this
attention,” he says, still incredulous, “just for playing a long time.”
Yet Isner’s epic feat has obscured this fact: With Andy Roddick
straddling the baseline of his late 20s, Isner is America’s best tennis
hope for the future. And at six feet nine, the North Carolina native is
able to use his height to generate tremendous leverage on his serve.
“It’s like the ball’s coming from a tree,” Roddick once declared. Isner
will look to build on his ranking and newfound celebrity at the U.S.
Open. “I consider it my bread-and-butter tournament,” he says. “I’m
definitely looking to go far.”