Before we even got the shot to embrace him in the way we promised we would, Andy Roddick is out.
In a marathon shootout, John Isner, the 24-year old boy giant, shocked Roddick in a 3 hour, 51 minute five set victory, which ended in a 7-5 tiebreak.
But Roddick didn’t choke. It was one of those strange matches where Roddick got matched up against someone who can be very, very good, but generally isn’t. Today, Isner had his game.
“You can’t really teach 6’9″, especially coming down on a serve,” said Roddick in an admirably candid post-match press conference. “You try to fight it off as much as you can. Sometimes you can, and sometimes it’s completely out of your hands.”
He’s right, too. This wasn’t Phil Mickelson missing a three footer, or Armando Benitez blowing a save. Isner’s serve was too much. He saved his best tennis for the final 12 points of the match in the tiebreak, and he broke Roddick’s serve once in the match, which is all he needed to do.
It was a strange match to watch. Isner, with his Frankenstein-like stature and agility, isn’t exactly a picture of grace, and his serve today made Roddick twist and turn and groan in a way that took a typically elegant player completely out of rhythm.
But that’s a giant’s game. He wants the match to look ugly. The thing about tall players is that they usually can’t sustain that level of play throughout an entire match. We saw this two years ago when Isner unraveled after taking the first set against Roger Federer.
There were no such mistakes this year, and Roddick is the unfortunate victim to Isner’s surprising four hours of competence.
What particularly hurts is that Roddick really had the game to make a run this year. He said he came into this tournament with as much confidence as he ever has into a Slam.
“That’s just the way tennis is,” he said. “The fact that I was able to make a quarterfinal last year and I was playing just terrible, and then I didn’t make it past the third round this year–that’s just the way it is sometimes. That’s the thing with sports. There’s not always a good reason for it.”