UNIONDALE, N.Y.—The task of winning a match against John Isner for Bernard Tomic came down to two factors: 1) not blinking on your own serve; 2) if the first factor is satisfied, pulling through in the tiebreaks.
Tomic, in the second round of the New York Open on Wednesday, came ever so close to succeeding on both fronts, but ultimately succumbed to the top-seeded American. He fell, 7-6 (7), 6-4, though the match felt much closer. Such are the slim margins at play when facing the game's best server.
"Nothing separated us, especially in that first set," Isner said.
Tomic's serve, a weapon itself, finally let him down in the first-set tiebreaker when, down 7-8, he spun an 82-m.p.h. softball into the middle of box, ripe for Isner to rip a hard forehand return. It would come back too hot for Tomic to handle, giving Isner the opening set.
The second set appeared to be heading toward a tiebreak as well, but Tomic again had a lapse at the worst possible moment, this time serving at 4-5.
"All of a sudden, I was up 0-40," Isner said. "He made two errors that he hadn't really made the whole match, and I hit a great return."
In a last-ditch effort, Tomic saved all three match points, largely on the back of his serve, with the added help of an Isner mishit.
"The 30-40 one, I'd like to have that back," Isner said, "Because I was in the point and I had a mid-court forehand, and it hit the cheap seats."
The final blow took a while for Isner to land—watch it above—but three more match points, two deft volleys and one netted Tomic forehand later, the world No. 9 sealed the second set, 6-4. He'll play another Aussie, Jordan Thompson, in the quarterfinals.
The win is Isner's first of 2019, snapping a six-match losing streak dating back to the Paris Masters.
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