Nadal, Murray advance; Isner ousted at French Open
Six-time champion Rafael Nadal and three- time Grand Slam runner-up Andy Murray were a pair of winners, while 6-foot-9 American John Isner lost in an epic second-round affair Thursday at the French Open.
The 10th-seeded Isner succumbed to oft-injured Frenchman Paul-Henri Mathieu 6-7 (2-7), 6-4, 6-4, 3-6, 18-16 in a more-than-five hour war of attrition on Court Chatrier.
Mathieu needed seven match points to finally stop Isner, who misfired wide on one final forehand after a grueling 5 hours, 41 minutes of tennis. The fifth set was a French Open-record 2 hours, 28 minutes.
Isner and Mathieu also set a record for the longest one-day match in the history of the French Open. It was also the second-longest ever in the tournament, and not since 1957 had their been a match at Roland Garros with more games played.
The gutsy Isner crushed 41 aces, but also piled up 98 unforced errors (98-40) in a match that had only six service breaks, including four and a match-ending one by the French winner.
The 30-year-old Mathieu had to rally from two sets down in his first-round match here against German Bjorn Phau.
The towering Isner, of course, is best known for beating France's Nicolas Mahut in the longest-ever tennis match two years ago at Wimbledon. Isner needed more than 11 hours over three days to outlast Mahut in an opening-round bout at the All England Club in 2010. A 70-68 fifth set against Mahut lasted more than eight hours.
Isner was the last American man standing in Paris this week.
Meanwhile, the second-seeded former world No. 1 Nadal dropped only four games in a 6-2, 6-2, 6-0 pasting of Uzbekistan's Denis Istomin on Court Lenglen. Nadal dropped only five games in his opening-round win here on Tuesday.
Nadal rolled in 1 hour, 50 minutes and was not broken by the overmatched Istomin.
The amazing Nadal is now 47-1 lifetime on the red clay at Roland Garros, including his Open-Era-record-tying six titles. He's currently the reigning two-time champ, including a victory over Roger Federer in last year's finale.
The 10-time major titlist Nadal lost to Novak Djokovic in the last three Grand Slam finals.
Nadal's third-round opponent here will be Argentine Eduardo Schwank.
The fourth-seeded Murray, meanwhile, received treatments for a bad back and almost retired before recording a 1-6, 6-4, 6-1, 6-2 come-from-behind victory over Finnish veteran Jarkko Nieminen on Chatrier. The Scot needed 2 hours, 27 minutes to move on.
"I was few points probably from stopping," Murray said. "I just didn't really want to stop the match. Then at the end of the second set I started standing up at the change of ends, and my back started to loosen up a little bit."
Murray, who lost to the great Nadal in his first-ever French Open semifinal here a year ago, has now reached the third round in Paris five straight years.
Up next for the British star will be Colombian Santiago Giraldo, who took out 25th-seeded promising Aussie Bernard Tomic 6-4, 6-1, 6-3.
Fifth-seeded French favorite Jo-Wilfried Tsonga completed a 6-2, 4-6, 6-2, 6-1 victory over German Cedrik-Marcel Stebe after their match was suspended because of rain on Wednesday, while sixth-seeded Spaniard David Ferrer whipped Frenchman Benoit Paire 6-3, 6-3, 6-2 to secure a spot in the round of 32 for an eighth consecutive year.
Eighth-seeded Serb Janko Tipsarevic got past France's Jeremy Chardy 7-6 (7-4), 6-1, 7-5, while 12th-seeded Spanish clay-court specialist Nicolas Almagro took care of former Aussie Open runner-up Marcos Baghdatis of Cyprus 6-4, 6-3, 7-5, and 13th-seeded gritty Argentine Juan Monaco moved on by handling Czech Lukas Rosol 7-6 (7-4), 6-0, 7-6 (7-5).
Another French victor on Day 5 was nifty 17th seed Richard Gasquet, who overcame talented Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov 5-7, 7-5, 6-2, 6-3.
In other second-round action involving seeds, No. 19 Canadian slugger Milos Raonic fired 16 aces in dismissing American Jesse Levine 6-4, 7-5, 6-2; Argentine Leonardo Mayer derailed No. 24 German Philipp Kohlschreiber 7-6 (7-5), 7-6 (7-4), 7-5; No. 27 Russian Mikhail Youzhny topped Dutchman Robin Haase 6-3, 7-6 (7-5), 6-4; Italian Fabio Fognini saved two match points before knocking out No. 28 Serb Viktor Troicki 6-2, 3-6, 4-6, 6-3, 8-6; No. 29 Frenchman Julien Benneteau cruised past Russian Dmitry Tursunov 6-4, 6-4, 6-4; and the aforementioned Schwank drove out No. 32 German Florian Mayer 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 (7-4), 7-6 (7-4). Raonic will meet Monaco in his next outing, while Youzhny will face Ferrer in the round of 32.
Veteran French crowd favorite Arnaud Clement lost to Belgian David Goffin 3-6, 7-6 (7-2), 0-6, 6-2, 6-1 in a match that was suspended because of rain Wednesday with Goffin leading 5-1 in the fifth set, while oft-injured former world No. 2 German Tommy Haas moved on with a 6-2, 6-3, 6-2 blitzing of Ukrainian Sergiy Stakhovsky.
The third round will begin on Friday, including matches for the No. 1 Djokovic and third-seeded Federer. The reigning Aussie Open, U.S. Open and Wimbledon champion Djokovic will face France's Nicolas Devilder, while the former No. 1 2009 French Open titlist and four-time Roland Garros runner-up Federer will battle the aforementioned Mahut.
Federer is the all-time men's leader with 16 major titles.
Also on the Day-6 schedule will be the former Aussie Open runner-up Tsonga, seventh-seeded former Wimbledon runner-up Tomas Berdych, and ninth-seeded former U.S. Open champ Juan Martin del Potro.