When Tsonga Outlasted Isner On Middle Sunday: 'It's Good To Be Alive'
Frenchman saved one match point in the pair's fifth ATP Head2Head clash
John Isner is no stranger to extended fifth sets at Wimbledon. Two matches that immediately come to mind are his 70-68 final-set victory against Nicolas Mahut in 2010, and his 26-24 final-set loss to Kevin Anderson in the 2018 semi-finals. Those weren't the American's only marathons at the All England Club, though.
Across two days in 2016, including only the fourth Middle Sunday in tournament history, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga recovered from two sets down to overcome Isner 6-7(3), 3-6, 7-6(5), 6-2, 19-17 in four hours and 24 minutes to reach the Round of 16. It marked the second straight year that Isner had been beaten in the third round at Wimbledon in an extended fifth set, following his 12-10 final-set loss to Marin Cilic in 2015.
"I'm happy to win one more match today," said Tsonga. "It's good to be alive.”
Tsonga’s hopes of improving on his own third-round exit in 2015 looked slim when serving at 5-5, 15/40, in the third set on Saturday night. But the two-time Wimbledon semi-finalist escaped from danger to take the third set and force the match into a second day on No. 2 Court.
On Middle Sunday, Tsonga cruised through the fourth set and saved a match point at 15-16, 30/40 in the decider with a forehand winner. The World No. 12 clinched the only break of the fifth set at 17-17, before closing the match with a backhand volley winner. For only the fourth time in his career, Tsonga had come from two sets down to earn a memorable victory.
Following his third ATP Head2Head win in five matches against Isner, Tsonga moved through to his fourth Wimbledon quarter-final after Richard Gasquet was forced to retire from their fourth-round clash after just six games.
In the quarter-finals, Tsonga once again recovered from two sets down to force a deciding set against Andy Murray. But, on this occasion, the 31-year-old could not find his way across the line. Murray regained his composure to end Tsonga’s run, before eventually capturing his second title at the All England Club.