By Randy Walker
John Isner exited the 2012 US Open early Monday morning, but became another obscure footnote in tennis history in the process.
Best known for winning the longest match in tennis history – 11 hours and five minutes in his 70-68 in the fifth-set win over Nicholas Mahut at Wimbledon in 2010 – Isner lost to Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-4, 3-6, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 in a third-round match that ended at 2:26 am Monday morning, tying the latest finish in US Open history.
As documented in the book ON THIS DAY IN TENNIS HISTORY (New Chapter Press, $19.95, www.TennisHistoryBook.com), it was on September 4, 1993 that the latest-finishing match in US Open history took place as Mats Wilander finally defeated Mikael Pernfors 7-6 (7-3), 3-6, 1-6, 7-6 (8-6), 6-4 in a 4 hour, 1 minute match that concluded at 2:26 am. In the post-match press conference, when asked if he had ever played this late in the evening, Wilander dead-paned to reporters, “Played what?”
USOpen.org, the official website of the US Open, originally reported that the match ended at 2:25 am, one minute shy of the record, but the official chair umpire’s scorecard, which is used for official statistics, reported the end of match at 2:26 am. Ironically, both Isner and Pernfors are former standouts from the University of Georgia.
From THE BUD COLLINS HISTORY OF TENNIS (available here: http://www.amazon.com/The-Collins-History-Tennis-Authoritative/dp/0942257707/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1346672996&sr=8-1&keywords=bud+collins+history+of+tennis) the latest finish to a match in a major tournament occurred at the 2008 Australian Open when Lleyton Hewitt defeated Marcos Baghdatis 4-6, 7-5, 7-5, 6-7 (4), 6-3, finishing at 4:34 am.
Isner’s loss to the German lasted 3 hours, 20 minutes. Kohlschreiber advanced to face Janko Tipsarevic in the fourth round on Tuesday.
As Jim Courier inadvertently, but not surprisingly announced on Tennis Channel Monday night, Isner will be a member of the four-player U.S. Davis Cup team that will face Spain in the semifinals the weekend after the conclusion of the US Open in Spain.
Isner ends his 2012 Grand Slam tournament season having lost in five sets at all four majors. At Wimbledon, he was defeated in the first round by Alejandro Falla of Colombia 6-4, 6-7 (7), 3-6, 7-6 (7), 7-5. At the French Open, he lost to Paul-Henri Mathieu of France 6-7 (2), 6-4, 6-4, 3-6, 18-6 in the second round. At the Australian Open, he lost to Feliciano Lopez of Spain 6-3, 6-7 (3), 6-4, 6-7(0), 6-1 in the third round.