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Marathon man Isner falls to Falla in five sets

John Isner returns a shot from Alejandro Falla.
Monday 25 June 2012

Lady Gaga may have once sang “don’t call my name, Alejandro” but the boisterous Colombian crowd on No.3 Court were singing Alejandro Falla’s name from the Wimbledon rooftops after an astonishing five sets win over marathon man John Isner.

The incredible 6-4, 6-7(7), 3-6, 7-6(7), 7-5, handed Falla his first Wimbledon win in five years and banished the memory of going so close to the first round upset of Roger Federer in 2010.

Falla looked far from the perennial first round loser as he took the first set with Isner, the No.11 seed struggling with his serve for the only time in the match in the first game and Falla took the early advantage.

Falla survived two break back points in the sixth game but the left-hander’s exhilarating play, which included several drop shots, kept Isner wobbling and the crowd in good mood.

Everyone knows what to expect from Isner though and back he came in a titanic second set with both men at the top of their games.

Isner, of course, played Nicolas Mahut in the longest match in tennis history here two years ago. The pair also played last year in the second round and by a quirk of fate could have met for a third year running at the All England Club.

Falla had no answer to Isner’s big booming serve in the second set but was able to force a tie-break thanks to his own consistent tennis.

It was the huge serve from the giant 6ft 9in American that helped him win a close tie-break 9-7, but you always felt the match would go the distance again and so it proved, even after Isner had taken advantage of Falla's fitness concerns to easily win the third set.

The Colombian called for the trainer numerous times and had treatment on both his lower back and legs. He was duly broken on two occasions and Isner appeared destined to close out the match.

But Falla’s heart could not be questioned as he came back, clearly spurred on by the memory of serving for the match against Federer.

Another nervy tie-break saw Falla take it 9-7 to set up a final set that has become Isner’s forte.

However there was to be no repeat of Isner’s heroics in recent past despite him saving two break points at 3-4.

Isner had not played a match since his second round defeat at the French Open, 18-16 in the final set to Paul-Henri Mathieu, and it was Falla who looked fresher towards the end, putting his earlier injury woes to one side.

The world No. 73 put pressure on Isner’s serve at 5-6, and took his chance when it came to him, taking his first match point as the American fired long to seal an impressive victory in three hours and 12 minutes.

“I’m very frustrated,” said a bitterly disappointed Isner afterwards. “I lost sight of the game plan and was not aggressive enough. I was tight and did not play freely enough.”

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