John Isner Goes Down To Mischa Zverev In The Third Round

Swarming the front court with conviction, Mischa Zverev’s nose was nearly over the net when John Isner rocketed a pass right at him with menacing intent.

Holding his ground, Zverev reflexed a volley winner right off the sideline.

Showing the soft hands of a sculptor, Zverev outclassed Isner on his home court in a classy display of old-school attacking tennis, 6-4, 6-3, 7-6 (5), storming into his second Grand Slam round of 16 of the season.

Covering the net with the agility of a soccer goalie, Zverev serve-and-volleyed on nearly every first serve, won 41 of 57 net points and hit 34 winners against just seven unforced errors in an exquisite dissection of the top-seeded American man.

“I couldn’t pass him is what it comes down to plain and simple,” Isner said. “I had little looks here and there. I don’t know what it is I struggle playing at night here. It sucks.”

Coming off back-to-back five-set wins, Zverev kept calm and committed to his attacking cause.

The 23rd-seeded German dispensed his dose of misery to Isner for the third time this season.

At the Australian Open in January, Zverev rallied from two sets down fighting off Isner, 6-7 (4), 6-7 (4), 6-4, 7-6 (7), 9-7.

The 10th-seeded Isner knew what he was in for in tonight’s rematch but couldn’t take away the net from his opponent and couldn’t dislodge Zverev when he got to net.

“You want to play better out there and I just didn’t,” Isner said. “He beat me. Credit him. It’s what he does. He makes it tough. I’m not Djokovic or Murray hitting passing shots so it’s tough—very frustrating for sure.” Oddsmakers and experts predicted we’d see a Zverev in the second week.

Only most people—including Mischa himself—believed it would be fourth-seeded Alexander Zverev, who tuned up for the Open defeating Roger Federer in the Montreal final after winning Washington, DC the week before.

“That’s a little bit of a surprise to me because my brother is number six in the world, he beat Federer in the final of Montreal so I was expecting him to be here,” Zverev told ESPN’s Pam Shriver afterward. “Now it’s me so I don’t know.

“I actually learned how to enjoy myself on a big court because when you’re out here you can just try to play your best… The crowd is unbelievable, Arthur Ashe is the biggest stage and it’s just phenomenal.”

The 30-year-old Zverev spoiled the prospect of an all-American fourth-round clash between Isner and Sam Querrey, who defeated Radu Albot in four sets.

The Wimbledon semifinalist is the last American man standing for the second straight major and knows he’s in for a tricky test against Zverev. 

“It’s tricky playing a lefty,” Querrey said. “Serves and volleys, chips the slice. I wouldn’t call him a clean ballstriker. He gives you a different look at a ball every time, which can be frustrating. I’ll sit with my coach. I’m assuming he’ll know what to do. That’s why he gets the big bucks.”

One of the game’s most menacing servers spit up the break meekly clanking a pair of double faults to donate serve in the seventh game of the second set.

Trying to shake off the pain, Isner took treatment for an apparent neck issue, but could not dent Zverev’s serve.

At the 67-minute mark, Isner pounded a mid-court forehand right at the left-hander whose nose was nearly over the net.

Standing his ground, Zverev blocked a self-preservation two-handed volley into the corner then zapped a serve winner down the middle for 5-3.

Bungling a forehand volley put the former all-American at Georgia into another a double set-point bind. The abbreviated backswing of Zverev’s two-handed backhand makes it tough to overpower him on that side. He bolted a backhand winner snatching a two-set lead after just 70 minutes of play.

Zverev, who took the court with a 9-1 record when winning the first two sets of a major match, bolted a backhand pass down the line for the mini break and a 4-2 lead. When Isner sprayed his favored diagonal forehand wide, Zverev had three match points.

Isner denied the first two, but Zverev charged behind a backhand chip and angled off a beautiful backhand volley to cap a two hour, six-minute master class.

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