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Marathon man Isner keeps it shortish and sweet

John Isner attacks with a forehand
by Kate Mason
Thursday 26 June 2014

Fans of 2010 marathon man John Isner were probably hoping for another epic after he took the first set off Finnish left-hander Jarkko Nieminen after a 20-minute 19-17 tie-break. But the final score was far more routine, the big American won 7-6(17), 7-6(3), 7-5 in a paltry two hours and 14 minutes.

Indeed, it was an efficient performance to beat the darkening cloud at the All England Club from a man famed for his tie-breaks. Once again, the serving of clinical Isner provided the impetus. At 6ft 9in, he powered down rockets from an altitude somewhere near the No.3 Court scoreboard, producing 32 in three sets. Nieminen, who is now slouch when it comes to serving, produced 13.

That was the difference and Isner explained why he always does well in tie-breaks. "I usually hit my hardest serves at that time,'' he said. "I'm going up, going after the ball, keeping everything the same, but just have a little bit more adrenaline.'' Once again Isner was dominant on service and didn't face a break point.

The second set tie-break was a slick affair from the last American remaining in the draw.  When Nieminen double-faulted on the third point, the No.9 seed was less generous with his serve, ripping out two aces of 135 and 133mph respectively as he sealed the set.

But he was happy with his performance today, saying: "I think especially in that third set I started making my way into those return games and eventually it paid off. I was just taking care of my serve as best as I could and I did it extremely well today. I don't think I faced a break point."

The Marathon Man now advances into the third round of The Championships for the first time in his career, with two three-setters behind him. He’s going to need a new nickname.

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