Zverev emerges from Isner trance to reach third round
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[January 18, 2017]
MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Tennis
players have come to dread being caught up in the phenomenon known
as the 'Isner trance' - as Germany's Mischa Zverev discovered at the
Australian Open on Wednesday.
Ever since John Isner emerged victorious from 'the endless match' at
Wimbledon in 2010 - when he beat Nicolas Mahut in a three-day,
183-game epic lasting over 11 hours - the American has left a string
of opponents feeling dazed and confused.
On day three in Melbourne, Zverev was sucked into a whirlwind for
over four hours, lost his bearings and lost track of the score
against the tall American.
He somehow survived the ordeal to reach the third round with a
6-7(4) 6-7(4) 6-4 7-6(7) 9-7 triumph over Isner.
"Honestly, I just felt weird. At times I didn't even know the score.
I think in the fourth (set) I had love-40 on his serve and I didn't
know that," said the 29-year-old, whose younger brother Alexander
made the second round on Tuesday.
"Then saving match point at 5-4 in the fourth, I also didn't know it
was match point. I thought it was 4-3.
"In the fifth set... I didn't know if it was 9-7 or 10-8."
Mischa next faces Tunisia's 56th-ranked Malek Jaziri, while his
Struggling to keep score in an Isner match is nothing new - in 2010
even the Wimbledon courtside scoreboard could not keep up as it got
stuck midway through a fifth set that ended 70-68 - but Zverev could
at least rely on one person to save his day.
"I kept looking to my box. Everybody is kind of nervous," said the
world number 50.
"My mum is the only one smiling and laughing the whole time. She's
like 'Whatever, it's going to be fine.' I think that helped me a
However, he did feel guilty for putting the family through the
wringer because for the second day running, his parents had to watch
a son survive a five-set thriller.
[to top of second column]
John Isner of the U.S. hits a shot during his Men's singles second
round match against Germany's Mischa Zverev. REUTERS/Edgar Su
"At one point I thought about Sascha (Alexander) winning in five
sets yesterday... I felt like maybe I could do the same today," said
"I looked at my dad. I am like, Poor him. He has to watch five sets
of Sascha yesterday, now he's watching five sets of me. He must be
But Mischa has endured much worse. He considered quitting in 2014 as
his ranking plummeted to 1,067 following a catalog of injuries
including a fractured wrist, two fractured ribs, a herniated disc in
his lower back and a torn knee tendon.
Seeing his teenage brother break into the world's top 20 spurred him
to make a comeback, and survive the Isner test.
"The last time I played third round in a slam was Wimbledon in 2008.
It's been a long time. I couldn't believe it," said an emotional
"I've never actually won a best-of-five match if I haven't won the
first two sets. So being down two sets to love is a whole other
story, especially against John Isner.
"I was so happy that tears were coming. That was the moment you
train for, you live for as a tennis player."
(Writing by Pritha Sarkar, editing by Ken Ferris)
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