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French Open: John Isner loses marathon five-set match to Paul-Henri Mathieu

View Photo Gallery: Marathon man John Isner went the distance at Roland Garros, but this time, he came out on the short end.

John Isner just played the longest-ever fifth set at one of the four major tournaments.

Hmmmm, where have we heard that one before?

In a second-round French Open match Thursday, the towering American made a little more history in a marathon match against Frenchman Paul-Henri Mathieu at the French Open. And while it didn’t quite stack up to his 2010 Wimbledon epic — this one was completed in a single day — it still qualified as the longest fifth set in tournament history. The match lasted 5 hours, 41 minutes, and in the end, Mathieu was left standing with a 6-7 (2), 6-4, 6-4, 2-6, 18-16 win.

Isner congratulates Paul-Henri Mathieu on his hard-fought win. (Francois Lenoir/REUTERS)

Two summers ago Isner played the longest match in tennis history when he beat Nicolas Mahut (also of France, coincidentally) 6-4, 3-6, 6-7, 7-6, 70-68 in a match that lasted 11 hours, 5 minutes over three days.

On Thursday Isner battled to save six match points during the decisive set, but on the seventh, his forehand landed wide, giving Mathieu an emotional win in his native France.

“If I worked so hard to come back, it was to experience moments like this,” said Mathieu, who spent the last year and a half working his way back from injury.

On the other side of the net, Isner’s massive serve and inability to break serve, once again drew out the match. He has now played five sets in each of the four majors.

“I just didn’t get it done,” Isner said. “I felt like I got caught in patterns that weren’t ideal for me. I wasn’t going for my shots at certain points in the match, and that comes from a little bit of a lack of confidence.”

Follow us: @MattBrooksWP | @CindyBoren

More French Open coverage from Washington Post Sports:

American Vavara Lepchenko upsets 19th-seeded Jelena Jankovic to reach third round

Defending champion Rafael Nadal moves on to third round

Venus Williams follows sister Serena out in first week at Roland Garros

Serena Williams ousted in first round by 111th-ranked Virginie Razzano

Photos from all the action at Roland Garros

Schedule and results: Men | Women

Matt Brooks is the high school sports editor for The Washington Post. He's an Arlington native and longtime District resident and was previously a high school sports reporter, editor for several blogs and Early Lead contributor with The Post.


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