WIMBLEDON, England — He once played the longest match in Wimbledon history, but Wednesday John Isner played one of the shortest. Isner retired from his second-round match against Adrian Mannarino at Wimbledon after only two games because of a left-knee injury.
Isner appeared to hurt his knee during his opening service game. After struggling to hold his serve, he took a medical timeout to get the injury evaluated and taped. When play resumed, Mannarino won his service game to even the score at 1-1. Isner felt discomfort when trying to serve in the third game, prompting him to retire.
After limping into the press room, Isner told reporters that the injury occurred on the third point of the match.
“I didn’t do anything different,” Isner said. “I just go to serve, and I think it was as I landed. I always serve and land on my left leg, like I have done 20 million times playing this game, and this is the first time I just felt this sharp pain. It wasn’t like a pop. It wasn’t like you hear athletes like, ‘Oh, crap, I feel like I heard it pop.’ … It just grabbed really badly, and I knew I was in serious trouble then. I knew at that point it was not likely I was going to be able to play.”
Isner missed the Australian Open in January because of a right-knee injury. In that case, there were signs that his right knee wasn’t doing well during the offseason. In this case, the injury to his left knee was sudden and unforeseen.
“This is a Slam,” he said. “You want to go out there. Little things pop up here and there that are tough to forecast, like my knee. Didn’t feel anything in my first match; didn’t feel anything yesterday in practice; didn’t feel anything today in warmup; didn’t feel anything in the five‑minute warmup; didn’t feel anything in the first two points of the match; and then, bam, felt it.”
Isner looked primed for a run to the second week at Wimbledon, where he’s never advanced past the second round. He was drawn into a section decimated by upsets of Rafael Nadal and Stanislas Wawrinka; he began the day as the highest-ranked player in that eighth of the draw.
“I was the highest-seeded player [in that section] on a surface that I’m tough to beat on, given how well I can serve and how much I can hold serve,” he said. “That’s very disappointing. It’s tough to think about. I had a good chance to go pretty far here.”
With his retirement, only four American men remained in the draw as of Wednesday morning: No. 86 Rajeev Ram, No. 87 James Blake, No. 105 Dennis Kudla and No. 156 Bobby Reynolds.