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Liguori: Isner Needed Energy

John Isner (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)

John Isner (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)

By Ann Liguori

After Andy Roddick was ousted from the US Open in the second round, high hopes were redirected toward the three remaining American men. John Isner, who was seeded #18, was the highest seeded guy remaining in the tournament. Mardy Fish was seeded at 19 and Sam Querrey, number 20.

The former All-American at University of Georgia, Isner made a name for himself when he won the longest match in the history of tennis – an 11 hours, 5 minute epic when he beat Nicolas Mahut in the first round of Wimbledon this year, 6-4, 3-6, 6-7, 7-6, 70-68. The final set alone lasted 8 hours 11 minutes. Isner smacked 113 aces.

With the heightened notoriety, the crowd at the US Open was anxious to see Isner. And yes, even though tennis is an international sport, the mostly American crowds at the US Open do like to root for Americans and see them do well. So a lot more was expected of Isner when he stepped on the Ashe Court Saturday evening to play Mikhail Youzhny of Russia in a third round match. It was prime-time, center court on a Holiday weekend. But by the looks of Isner’s lackluster demeanor, particularly in the first set and in the fourth, Isner looked like he has not recuperated from that July marathon. He looked as flat and uninspired as could be. At one point in the first set, he looked like he was falling asleep on the court. The crowd cheered him on but until midway through the second set, when he rallied from being down 1-5 to win that second set in a tie-breaker, he lacked energy and emotion. Isner looks like he is naturally a mellow guy. But this was the US Open! Under the lights. A huge opportunity for this guy to shine! Come out and look like you have some energy!

Now I realize that in his last event before the US Open, Isner retired with a right ankle injury in the 2nd round at the tournament in Cincinnati. And that he only returned to the tennis court two days before this year’s US Open.

After his four set loss, Isner admitted that his legs did not have the bend that he needed on his serve and on his ground strokes. He did say he felt fatigued. But if you can’t be up for a third round match at the US Open, or any match here, something is wrong.

Youzhny’s game plan looked like it was to slice the ball and keep it low. After all, Isner is six foot nine and tall guys like that don’t scamper around the court as quickly as they’d like. But Isner looked sluggish most of the match despite serving 33 aces. He made 63 winners but committed 61 unforced errors.

So with Isner out and Fish getting grilled by third seed Novak Djokovic in the Round of 16, the lone American in the men’s draw is Sam Querrey. Querrey has a round of 16 meeting against Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland on Tuesday afternoon. Wawrinka pulled off the surprising upset of fourth seed Andy Murray in the third round. Wouldn’t it be great if Querrey could give American tennis some energy and come up with another win here?

Andres Agassi…come back to us!