China Open, Beijing
[CR13] John Isner (USA) vs. [CR76] John Millman (AUS)
It was their first meeting and given the difference in their ranking and number of titles, Isner was expected to win this match. In fact, he was expected to win this match quite easily. Yet, that is what makes sports, especially individual sports, so exciting for the fans. It’s the unexpected results that occur in spite of the overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Today, Millman almost accomplished the unexpected. He served for the match at 6-5 in the second set and lost his serve for the first time. All he had to do was hold his serve once more, just as he had done the entire match and he would have gotten the victory. However, once again, Millman proved that the hardest game to win at times is the one to close out a match. It is that much more difficult when it’s against a much higher ranked player.
Millman’s mind went on over drive at the prospect of what he was about to accomplish. Unfortunately for Millman, he counted the victory before he won his service game. Isner, frustrated for the majority of the match by the shrewd tactics of Millman, broke serve at the last-minute. The tiebreak was not a commanding victory, but all he needed to do was win it by two points. Once he won the second set, the entire complexity of the match changed. Now Millman had to get over the disappointment of failing to serve out the match. That little period of distraction was all Isner needed to steal an early break in the third set. Although Millman fought to the very end, Isner had no interest in relinquishing his lead. Isner came back from the brink of defeat with the 4-6, 7-6(5), 6-4 defeat of Millman and for his effort, he gets the number one ranked player in the next round.