John Isner’s career fittingly ended with a final-set tiebreaker.
Isner put a volley into the net to end the match and what he had announced would be his final singles tournament, falling in the US Open second round to fellow American Michael Mmoh 3-6, 4-6, 7-6 (3), 6-4, 7-6 (7).
“It’s tough. I like to think I work as hard as I can,” Isner told a Grandstand crowd that erupted in cheers as he trailed off into tears.
The 38-year-old Isner, who needed a wild card to get into the draw at Flushing Meadows, blasted 48 aces and won 86% of his first-serve points in a match that also included 63 unforced errors. Several times, the 6ft 10in Isner fell to the ground while diving to make volleys.
Isner reached a career-best ranking of No 8 in 2018, shortly after reaching the semi-finals at Wimbledon, won 16 singles titles and has hit more than 14,000 aces, an ATP Tour record. That includes 113 in the longest match in tennis history, a first-round Wimbledon win against Nicolas Mahut in 2010 that lasted 11 hours, 5 minutes and ended at 70-68 in the fifth set.
Next up for the 89th-ranked Mmoh will be Jack Draper, who upset an apparently ailing Hubert Hurkacz 6-2, 6-4, 7-5, extending his return to the tour after being out more than two months with a shoulder injury.
Draper, a 21-year-old Brit who only came back to the tour in early August, showed no signs of injury with strong serves and groundstrokes, while Hurkacz appeared listless at times and called the courtside medics over during a changeover in the final set.
It dashed the hopes of the 17th seed from Poland, who came into the US Open after a strong semi-final showing at the tune-up event in Cincinnati when he had a match point against No 1 Carlos Alcaraz before eventually losing in three sets.