1) What did we learn from the Marathon Match against Mahut?
From a strictly technical and tactical perspective, the match unfolded more or less as one would have imagined. Few observers would have been surprised either by Isner’s ability to hold serve repeatedly against an indifferent returner or by his inability to break serve, considering his mediocre return. Yet the remarkable and encouraging lesson from “70-68” was the fortitude and bulldog-like resolve that the American demonstrated by refusing to abandon the struggle even after it reached surreal proportions. Just as valuable as his serve, this mental trait augurs well for his future in the tour’s most significant events and in his matches against marquee opponents. Still winless against the ATP top 5, Isner displayed the sort of courage that he will need in order to break through against them.
2) What effect will that match have upon his career?
One suspects that no second-round Wimbledon loser has received the degree of attention in which Isner was bathed upon his return, where he even participated in the Letterman Show. Before his next tournament in Atlanta, he claimed to have grown weary of discussing “70-68” already, but he should brace himself for relentless rounds of questions on it throughout the summer. Although this early taste of celebrity could erode the focus of a less mature player, we suspect that Isner won’t permit himself to be derailed. Instead, he likely will reflect upon this match as proof that no mission is impossible, reinforcing his already sturdy work ethic. During those eleven hours, he earned himself fresh legions of fans throughout the world, and their support will bolster this player who clearly benefits from an encouraging crowd.
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