WHAT HAPPENED: Having come from two sets down to win his first round match in over three hours on Tuesday, a win against No. 13 seed John Isner would have been a tall order for German Jan-Lennard Struff. In their first career meeting on Thursday, the 6’10” American sent Struff packing with a 7-6, 6-4, 6-2 victory to set up an all-too-familiar rematch in the third round with another German, No. 22 Philipp Kohlschreiber.
It was a sunny afternoon on Louis Armstrong Stadium as Isner, 29, served a double fault to start the match. But the immediate error was quickly forgotten as he next served the first two of his total 30 aces for the match. It was a nervy serving start from Struff, 24, who went down 0-30 before coming back to hold thanks to a handful of forehand errors from Isner. The first set continued to be evenly matched, with Struff showing his willingness to go for risky shots, including a lob winner over the head of the tall crowd favorite. Struff’s only break point the entire match was saved by Isner with an ace.
In the first set tie break, Isner succeeded in getting the mini break for a 4-3 lead and later, a backhand error from Struff on Isner’s serve gave the American the first set in 50 minutes.
Besides the typical impressive number of aces seen during an Isner match, the No. 1 American wowed the crowd with his serve speeds, including two 135-mph aces and a whopping 112-mph second serve.
In the fourth game of the second set, Isner again used his superb serve to his advantage, serving four straight aces for a love hold. In the ninth game, Isner finally saw his first break point opportunities and, despite Struff saving one, Isner converted the second thanks to a backhand error from the German for a 5-4 lead. It only took two set points for Isner to speedily take the second set in 38 minutes with - naturally - an ace.
In the third set, Struff was unable to do much with Isner’s serve and as fatigue mounted. A double fault in the third game gave Isner a 2-1 lead. Isner broke again in the seventh game for a 5-2 lead and a chance to serve for the match after the sixth double fault from Struff.
Isner clinched the win with an ace and said after: “Winning that first set tie breaker gave me a lot of momentum. I played very well in the second and third sets.”
WHAT IT MEANS: Isner, who now has a 17-7 record in New York, will meet Kohlschreiber in the third round, who advanced due to a retirement from Michael Llodra. The American has lost to Kohlschreiber in the third round for the past two years. Knowing this, Isner told the crowd after his win how important they are to him: “It’s a very big advantage for me. I have the crowd on my side. I love you guys and I love this court.”
THE QUESTION: On his third try in three years, can Isner finally get past Kohlschreiber in the third round?