Day three at the 2011 French Open brought two firsts for Rafael Nadal. In his history at the tournament, he has never played a five-set match, and the Spanish wonder has never lost a set in the first or second rounds. Tuesday, he made up for that by dropping two sets in a five-set win over American John Isner. Final score: 6-4 6-7 (2), 6-7 (2), 6-2, 6-4.
A first match fiver-setter for Nadal is not only unprecedented, it might ultimately hurt him in the two-week grind that leads up to a winner’s trophy being handed to one man and one woman at the end the tournament.
Nadal was flummoxed by Isner’s cannon serve that reaches 140 mph+ and comes at such a steep angle as a result of Isner standing 6′ 9″ tall. Nadal usually stands well behind the baseline when returning serves on a hard court but on Tuesday in Paris, he was closer to the stands than the red clay baseline.
Because Nadal had to begin so far back on Isner’s service games, the American could use an effective drop shot and sharp-angle volleys to win points. It is telling that both tie-breakers were won 7-2 by Isner since the player with the best and strongest serve is usually better at pulling those out.
Once he was down two sets to one, Nadal went to work and his conditioning and fire overwhelmed Isner, who wouldn’t have been faulted for being emotionally and physically exhausted after coming within one set of beating the defending and five-time French Open champ.
The men’s side of the draw produced a couple of major upsets during the matches played on Day Three. Eleventh seed Nicolas Almagro went down in a wild five-set match to unseeded Lukasz Kobut of Poland 3-6, 2-6, 7-6 (3) 7-6 (5) 6-4. Tomas Berdych, the sixth seed, lost to Stephane Robert of France 3-6, 3-6, 6-2, 6-2, 9-7.
Among the top women, Ana Ivanovic bowed out in a first round match, losing in three sets to Sweden’s Johanna Larsson, ranked 64th in the world. She lost 6-2 in the third after sweeping her opponent 6-0 in the second set.
The Tennis Channel will rebroadcast the day’s major events beginning at 6:30 p.m. EDT. It then picks up live coverage of Day Four at 5:00 a.m. EDT with ESPN-2 continuing the rest of the day’s live broadcast at noon on Wednesday, giving way to the Tennis Channel again that evening.
For more information on the TV broadcast schedule you’ll find it here.
Women’s draw results Men’s draw results
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