The U.S. Open represented John Isner's final opportunity to make a deep run at a grand slam this year, so the hard-serving American didn't take it well at all when that chance evaporated Sunday night.
Isner lost his cool after a key foot fault call while he was serving in the fifth set of a 6-4, 3-6, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 loss to No. 19 seed Philipp Kohlschreiber. He double-faulted after what would have been an ace was negated by the foot fault, giving Kohlschreiber a break point that he converted for the lone break of the fifth set.
Irate over the timing of the call, Isner whacked a ball into the upper deck, drawing a code violation for unsportsmanlike conduct. He spent much of the ensuing changeover arguing with chair umpire Carlos Bernardes over the line judge's call, telling him incredulously, "I haven't foot-faulted this whole year, and this guy calls one on me."
Isner was still seething at the ensuing changeover two games later. He again had words with Bernardes before smashing his racquet on the ground and flinging it away from him, a show of force that would have left even guitar-smashing '80s rock stars in awe.
The frustration from Isner probably had as much to do with how the match went for him as the foot fault call itself. He converted on just two of 11 break-point chances. Kohlschreiber, on the other hand, capitalized on all three of his, including an Isner double-fault at 3-4 in the fourth set that enabled the German to force a fifth.
If Isner is the best hope for American men's tennis to remain relevant post-Andy Roddick, then this year so far has been a mixed bag.
On one hand, he won two ATP tournaments, cracked the top 10 for the first time and beat the likes of Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. On the other hand, he lost in the third round or sooner of all four grand slams, meaning he still has only reached the quarterfinals at a major once in his pro career.
Isner may yet have a deep grand slam run in him the next couple years because his serve makes him a threat in every match he plays. He let an opportunity slip away on Sunday night, however, because his temper got the best of him.