Video: The spectacular winner that saved Nadal’s French Open

Chris Chase
May 24, 2011

John Isner still had a chance.

He was on serve early in the fifth set of his first-round epic against Rafael Nadal and hit a big serve wide to the side. Win the point and the game was even at 15-all. Lose the point and Isner was staring at a 0-30 hole, a potential break of serve and the unlikely prospects of having to break Nadal twice to win the match.

Isner's serve had left Nadal on his heels all day. If he hit a good one, pushed Nadal out wide and deep, Isner could go cross-court for the winner or play a drop shot.

The American did what he wanted. The serve went where it was supposed to go. But when you're playing the greatest clay courter in the world, sometimes that's not enough:

Nadal went on to win the game and eased to a fifth-set win. As the reaction of his Uncle Toni showed, it was all over after that return.