• Isner meets Nalbandian, Wawrinka faces Baghdatis

    1/17/12 4:26 PM | Ricky Dimon
    Isner meets Nalbandian, Wawrinka faces Baghdatis A pair of blockbuster-second round matchups are on tap for Wednesday in Melbourne. John Isner goes up against David Nalbandian and Stanislas Wawrinka takes on Marcos Baghdatis.

    (16) John Isner vs. David Nalbandian

    Isner and Nalbandian will be squaring off for the third time in their careers when they clash in round two of the Australian Open on Wednesday. Nalbandian leads the head-to-head series 2-0, with a straight-set victory last year in Auckland preceded by a retirement from Isner during the first set of a 2010 Cincinnati match. The Argentine's form is hard to gauge at the moment. He is 30 years old, down at No. 87 in the world, and has not yet completed an ATP match this season. Nalbandian played no warmup tournaments and got a second-set retirement from Jarkko Nieminen on Monday.

    Isner suffered a surprise loss to Bobby Reynolds in his season-opener last week in Sydney, but he opened in Melbourne with a straight-set victory over Australian wild card Benjamin Mitchell. The 17th-ranked American is looking to reach the third round of this event for a third consecutive year. With Nalbandian likely still shaking off some rust, Isner should be able to serve his way to a four-set victory.

    (21) Stanislas Wawrinka vs. Marcos Baghdatis

    Baghdatis is looking to make another run Down Under after finishing runner-up to Roger Federer in 2006. The 44th-ranked Cypriot struggled for much of last season but he seems to be rounding into form. Baghdatis reached the Brisbane quarterfinals, advanced to the semis in Sydney, and rolled over Benjamin Becker in his Melbourne opener on Monday.

    Up next for Baghdatis is a second career meeting with Wawrinka, who won their only previous matchup 6-3, 6-7(1), 6-0 at the 2008 Indian Wells Masters. Wawrinka lost to Go Soeda in the Chennai quarterfinals two weeks ago, but he had no problems with Benoit Paire in the Aussie first round. The Swiss reached the quarterfinals last year, but he his current level does not inspire confidence for a similar run this time. In fact, don't be surprised if he exits after five sets against Baghdatis.

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5th set

RickyDimon , 1/18/12 9:02 AM

This match is unreal! I have lost count of how many aces Isner has served. Nalby has been holding his serve so well.

This is good stuff!

Nativenewyorker , 1/18/12 9:32 AM

They must have upped their level, because when I left.... UE were far more common than winners. I watched them midway through the second set until midway through the fourth.... How spent is Isner?

Bonker , 1/18/12 10:19 AM

I am outraged over what happened in this match! This is one of the worst things I have seen! I am so upset for Nalby. That serve from Isner was clearly out and with the confusion and the crowd noise, Nalby didn't know what was going on. There is no reason why the chair umpire should not have allowed him to challenge the call. What is the point of having the whole challenge system if players aren't allowed to use it! The match was on the line. It was break point for Nalby.

Watching how this ended just made me sick.

Nativenewyorker , 1/18/12 10:34 AM

Exactly NNY. The are so many loose ATP rules that need to be looked at. The was the rules are applied is so inconsistent.

nadline , 1/18/12 10:41 AM

The ATP Reps on court never rule against the umpire so it's pointless them being there, they ALWAYS side with the umpire or the line judge.

nadline , 1/18/12 10:44 AM


I am so upset that I can't go to sleep! It's 1:45 am here, but I am so mad that I can't go to bed! I have never seen anything like this! Outrageous! It wasn't even close.

Why in the world didn't the chair umpire let Nalby challenge once he realized that he had overruled the call and said the serve was good? I don't understand this at all. With the match on the line? It was break point for Nalby.

Now I am so angry that I can't remember if it was Isner's first or second serve. If it was his second serve, then he double-faulted and Nalby got the break. We all know what it's like to play a guy like Isner. You have to take any chance you get. Nalby was so strong, hanging in there and fighting to hold his serve.

He was so upset by the whole thing, that he promptly lost the next game. I don't see how he could have possibly maintained his concentration. It just gives me a bad taste in my mouth. I wonder if Isner realized that the serve was out.

As far as I can make out, the linesperson called it good and the chair umpire overruled. At least that is what I think happened. Then the stupid chair umpire decided that Nalby couldn't challenge. It took that long for him, because he couldn't hear anything with all the crowd noise. I don't get it.

This isn't even inconsistent. It's just plain wrong.

Nativenewyorker , 1/18/12 10:48 AM

Nalby pleaded his case to the tournament officials to no avail. It is pointless to have them there if they will never overturn a chair umpire or line judge. Why didn't they just show it and then they would all see that it was clearly out. It's not like it was close, so I don't even understand why the chair umpire would overrule the linesperson's call.

What a mess!

Nativenewyorker , 1/18/12 10:51 AM

So agree with NNy and nadline. Also thought I heard a call? Nalbandian outclassed Isner in every department except serve. Grrrrr

deuce , 1/18/12 11:05 AM

As if that was not enough, Brit Eurosport say they are not allowed to show the viewrs the hawkeye verdict. What kind of a sport is this - is all cloak and dagger stuff.

nadline , 1/18/12 11:12 AM

deuce - no he didn't. Isner was BY FAR the better player in the 4th set and the first 12 games of the fifth.

RickyDimon , 1/18/12 11:17 AM

Sorry Ricky, I know u love Iner but I totally disagree. Majority of the rallies they got into, Nalby was on top. Only Isner's serve saved him.

deuce , 1/18/12 11:34 AM

I agree deuce, Nalby was far superior to Isner.

nadline , 1/18/12 12:10 PM

watch the match, people. First set was about even. Nalbandian was bad in the second. Nalbandian was definitely the better player in the third. Isner was BY FAR the better player in the 4th and should have won it before the tiebreaker. Nalbandian was better in the first 4 games of the 5th. Isner was the better player the entire rest of the way (even with cramps) until the bad call.

That's how it went. I watched virtually every point of this match. Isner served well but also won huge baseline points. Nalbandian had countless opportunities to win big points that were baseline rallies, and he couldn't do it.

RickyDimon , 1/18/12 8:33 PM

Baghdatis video -

RickyDimon , 1/18/12 8:36 PM


Thank goodness here in the states espn2 showed the hawkeye verdict. It wasn't even close. Just totally bizarre. I thought that umpires aren't supposed to overrule calls unless it is an obvious error. Patrick McEnroe and Brad Gilbert were stand-up guys. No favoritism because Isner is an American player. They were on Nalby's side all the way. They said he was robbed, big time.

As far as who played better, they didn't televise it from the beginning. Espn2 moves all over the place in the early rounds. I didn't watch it on the espn3 livestream, because I was watching another match. I am trying to remember when they finally switched back to the match for good. I think it was in the fourth set, because they posted the scores of other matches and I remember seeing that Nalby was up two sets to one.

I will agree with Ricky that Isner did win some big baseline points. I was surprised to see how well he was hitting his groundstrokes. However, I have to give credit to Nalby for holding his serve. Everyone knows the mental pressure of having to hold your serve and one break to a guy like Isner means losing the set.

In the latter stages of the fifth set, Nalby missed some big shots and even he knew it. I have to be honest about that. However, that in no way minimizes how this match ended. It's not about who played better or who supposedly deserved to win. It's about having accurate calls and using hawkeye and fairness to both players.

Nativenewyorker , 1/18/12 10:08 PM

agreed with pretty much all of above post by NNY

Still, Nalbandian could have prevented this whole thing if he had just made one of those two easy backhands on consecutive break points.

It's just a shame that people will only remember the call from a match that was extremely high quality and entertaining from both players.

RickyDimon , 1/18/12 11:13 PM


I also have to agree with your comments about the match. Once my emotions were more under control today, I realized that Nalby did have his chances. I did find myself impressed with Isner's ability to hold his own with a great ball striker like Nalby in many rallies. He really is playing so much better now and is ranking reflects that.

He does get a lot of easy points with his serving, but he really does have a complete game to go along with it.

Your last sentence really said it all - it is too bad that this controversy will overshadow what was a great match that was a joy to watch up until right before the end.

Nativenewyorker , 1/19/12 4:57 AM

Yup, Isner was as good as Nalbandian throughout the match, still would have liked to see the old fox win for old times sake.

samprallica , 1/19/12 6:11 AM

^^ Should say through the match.

samprallica , 1/19/12 6:13 AM

Well, Ricky, I will agree that Nalby made some poor shot choices at crucial moments, eg those awful short lobs, to ISNER! No! How's that?

deuce , 1/19/12 6:25 AM

the only terrible shots were the 2 BHs

for the most part Nalby's lob was one fire

RickyDimon , 1/19/12 6:30 AM

comprehensive highlights, even though highlights dont cover everything but these ones are good... dont know how can you conclude isner was BY FAR the better player in set 4 ! actually it was nalby BY FAR the better player in set 3 ! but yea overall isner matches him well from the ground and he also returned well

vamosrafa , 1/19/12 2:04 PM

This incident could be a blessing in disguise if it fores the authorities to examine the many anomalies in the rules of the game. It's ridiculous to expect a player to judge 15 secs in his head and concentrate on his game at the same time.

There was nothing Isner could do about it because a player cannot ask the umpire not to enforce the rules and not even Isner knew whether the serve was a fault or not.

nadline , 1/19/12 3:23 PM

vamosrafa - yes, Nalbandian was easily the better player in set three, which i why he won it. Isner was easily the better player in set 4 and should not have needed a breaker.

nadline - do you really think the authorities will do something based on this match? id be surprised if it causes any action.

RickyDimon , 1/19/12 4:29 PM

I just think that whilst the players are drawing up their list of changes required they could cite this incident to improve umpiring, because too much is at the whim of the umpire.

nadline , 1/19/12 4:36 PM

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