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Isner: Bizarre to put Nadal on Chatrier

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Originally published on 26/05/14

Chatrier is the main show court at Roland Garros with more than 4,000 extra seats than Lenglen, and both Roger Federer and Serena Williams played their opening matches on the former. Novak Djokovic will also play on Chatrier against Joao Sousa on Monday around the same time defending champion Nadal takes on American wild card Robby Ginepri.

Isner, who himself beat Frenchman Pierre-Huges Herbert 7-6(5), 7-6(4) 7-5 on Lenglen, said the decision to put Nadal on the secondary court was odd.

“That's really bizarre. I mean, how many times does the guy have to win the tournament to be able to have his first match on Chatrier?” he said. “No offense to Stan [Wawrinka], but if you look at it you would figure they'd be flip flopped. But I don't think Rafa really cares that much. He's just going to go out there and try to win.

“I know he's playing Robby, a super good friend of mine. I believe Robby got up at 8:00 in the morning to hit on Chatrier this morning, and he's not playing on there! But a court is a court, it’s all the same.”

Isner reeled off 23 aces and got the only break of serve to secure a straight-sets win against Herbert, who was vociferously supported by a partisan crowd on Chatrier. The 29-year-old American admitted it was a tough afternoon’s work but was pleased to come through unscathed.

"Winning in three sets is pretty crucial in an event like this,” he said. “When I get in these long, drawn out matches and I'm grinding with these guys and playing four or five sets, it takes a much bigger toll on me than it does really anybody else, I believe, because I'm the heaviest guy on tour, as well. Just as it is for anyone, how you want to try to get through in three sets it's even more imperative for me.

“I feel pretty good right now, and actually have been playing pretty decent. I thought I played well last year and served for a match I didn't win, but it didn't bother me too much because I played well and played okay out there today.

“It's fun playing in an atmosphere like that, especially when the crowd don't want you to win, but they're a very, very good crowd.”

Ironically, Isner could now face Nicolas Mahut in the second round, another Frenchman and the player who he beat in the longest match ever at Wimbledon in 2010. That marathon encounter lasted 11 hours and five minutes and Isner is rooting for Mahut against Mikhail Kukushkin.

“We always seem to get near each other when it comes around this time of year, but I'm 100% pulling for him. I would love to play him at this event, with the crowd on his side. He's such a good guy, so I'm always rooting for him to win,” he said.

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