Any player when asked publicly will apologise very diplomatically about clinching a match on a net cord winner – even Roger Federer, albeit with a grin.
Truth is no player cares two hoots how the final point of the match ends, as long as it ends in their favour.
Federer was the beneficiary in his Olympic singles quarter-final when an angled slice backhand return clipped the white tape and jumped over, ending the tie-breaker and with it, giant American John Isner’s run, 6-4, 7-6(5) on Thursday.
While the Olympic top seed claimed the honours the last time the pair met, it was that other Switzerland v USA match, which had Federer hell-bent on revenge.
In a first round Davis Cup tie on Swiss soil earlier this year, Isner did the unthinkable – beating Basel’s favourite son on clay to spearhead a US upset.
Playing on Wimbledon’s Centre Court – his home away from home – it would not have gone down well losing twice in the same year against the same man, while on representative duties.
Isner would be the first to falter in their Olympic quarter-final, missing a sitting forehand put-away on break point at 4-4 to hand Federer the chance to serve out the opening set.
Well aware of the big American’s difficulty in moving forward, Federer utilised a string of drop shots, the first leaving Isner stranded on the baseline.
The following point, the 10th seed mowed down a drop shot, guiding it up the line for a winner before Federer - determined to win the battle of the short balls – played a drop shot for the third point in a row to bring up 30-15.
He went on to seal the first set 6-4 after 35 minutes, with games continuing on serve throughout the second.
Twice Isner found himself just two points from the set on Federer’s serve but was unable to make the breakthrough.
Again in the tie-breaker Isner inched to within two points of sending the match into a deciding set, a backhand volley winner edging him to 5-4.
It would be a cruel ending for Isner, however, with Federer reeling off the final three points; the last with the aforementioned net-cord winner.
He will play eighth seed Juan Martin del Potro for a place in the gold-medal decider after the Argentine took care of Japan’s Kei Nishikori in straight sets 6-4, 7-6(4).