Nadal comes back to beat Isner at French Open

Updated: 2011-05-25 09:46


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Nadal comes back to beat Isner at French Open
John Isner of the US serves to Rafael Nadal of Spain during the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros stadium in Paris May 24, 2011. [Photo/Agencies] 

So all seemed rather ho-hum when Nadal was leading Isner by a set and a break at 4-2 in the second. But Isner broke back to 4-all when Nadal missed a forehand, and suddenly, a tight match ensued.

"That's when I started to sort of believe a little bit more," Isner said, "and started to play with more confidence and strut around more out there."

Even Nadal was a bit worried. So was Toni Nadal, Rafael's coach and uncle, who would later say that from his perch in the stands he felt "very, very nervous, because losing in the first round is not too good for us."

But his nephew steeled himself, and made zero _ yes, that's right, zero _ unforced errors in the fourth set, while Isner made 12. Nadal broke Isner for a 2-1 edge in the fourth set, and called that "the turning point."

Isner's coach, Craig Boynton, agreed.

"Rafa getting up an early break in the fourth really helped his psyche," Boynton said.

Nadal broke for a 2-1 lead in the fifth set, too, thanks in part to a cross-court backhand return winner, a forehand return winner, and a backhand return at the feet of the net-charging Isner. Uncle Toni greeted each with a yell of "Vamos!"

"Fantastic game for me," Nadal said. "I played my best game of the match."


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