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Isner’s Marathon French Open Loss Eliminates Final American Man

Another marathon contest for John Isner ended with American men being shut out of the third round of the French Open for the first time since 2007.

Paul-Henri Mathieu of France upset the 10th-seeded Isner in the second-longest match in the clay-court tournament’s history.

Isner, 27, played tennis’s longest match at Wimbledon in 2010, when he prevailed against another Frenchman, Nicolas Mahut, in 11 hours, 5 minutes over three days and 183 games. The final set lasted 138 games.

Mathieu won yesterday 6-7 (2-7), 6-4, 6-4, 3-6, 18-16 in a second-round match that lasted 5 hours, 41 minutes at Roland Garros in Paris.

“I’m going to go home,” Isner told reporters. “I don’t even want to think about tennis right now.”

Rafael Nadal of Spain, seeking his record seventh French Open singles title, moved into the third round and Andy Murray of Britain overcame back trouble to advance. Defending women’s champion Li Na of China also won, as did men’s No. 5 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France, No. 6 David Ferrer of Spain and No. 8 Janko Tipsarevic of Serbia.

Men’s top seed Novak Djokovic of Serbia and No. 3 Roger Federer of Switzerland both face Frenchmen today in the third round. Djokovic will play Nicolas Devilder and Federer will go against Mahut. Women’s top seed Victoria Azarenka of Belarus also has a third-round match today, against Aleksandra Wozniak of Canada.

Mathieu finished off his win against Isner on his seventh match point of a final set that lasted more than 2 1/2 hours and was the longest in tournament history in terms of games played.

Dominating on Serves

“At the end of the match, I did not even believe I won,” Mathieu said in a news conference. “We played for more than five hours, and I thought it was not going to finish.”

Both players dominated with their serves on the clay, with only six service breaks in the match. Isner, who had 41 aces to his opponent’s six, made 98 unforced errors.

The final set stayed on serve as Isner saved five match points. The American then saved a sixth in the last game at 15-40 before sending a shot wide.

The length of the match on the main Court Philippe Chatrier forced yesterday’s final scheduled contest between second-seeded Maria Sharapova of Russia and Japan’s Ayumi Morita to be postponed until today.

The longest match in Roland Garros history was between Frenchmen Arnaud Clement and Fabrice Santoro, who played for six hours, 33 minutes over two days in the 2004 first round.

Mathieu, 30, is ranked 261st in the world after missing last season with a knee injury.

“I hadn’t played for so long and against such a tough player,” he said. “I can’t lie and say I’m fresh. I’m tired.”

While no U.S. men advanced past the second round, American woman continued their best performance in seven years. Unseeded Varvara Lepchenko and Christina McHale both won to put three U.S. women into the third round for the time since 2005.

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