Nieminen agreed, saying: "I feel like I had him. ... It's not often that somebody looks that bad and can keep going."
But Murray did trudge on, putting in serves at 70 mph or so, and taking big cuts at returns to try to end points then and there, until he could swing more freely.
Isner, meanwhile, topped 130 mph regularly, pounded 41 aces and only double-faulted once against Mathieu, but never did enough on his returns, earning only four break points all match — the same formula that led to his monumental 11-hour, 5-minute victory over another Frenchman, Nicolas Mahut, in the first round at the All England Club in 2010.
"I served well," Isner said. "Just didn't do anything else that well."
The record-smashing, three-day ordeal against Mahut never entered Isner's mind Thursday, he insisted. Mathieu said that when he learned he'd be facing Isner, he sought advice from Mahut — and vowed to avenge his pal's tough loss.
From nearly the moment his match against Mahut was finally over, Isner has made clear he wants to be known for greater accomplishments, for deep runs at Grand Slam tournaments.
The next chance for that comes on Wimbledon's grass in June. For now, though, Isner wants to head to Florida and take a break.
"I'm going to go home," he said. "I don't even want to think about tennis right now."
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