Andy Murray was slain by a giant as he failed to reach the third round of Wimbledon for the first time in his career.
And even though he went to the well and briefly threatened to pull off another epic comeback, there was no fairytale ending this time on Centre Court.
Huge American John Isner – all 6′ 10″ of him – absolutely pummelled the 35-year-old with the best serve in the tournament and a series of deft little volleys around the net. And after a scorching 36 aces in this match, he could break Ivo Karlovic’s all-time record of 13,728 at this tournament as he is now only four behind.
Murray, who came into the tournament on the back of an abdominal injury, showed tremendous heart to win a third-set tie break after going 2-0 down.
But the 20th seed and former semi finalist came through 6-4, 7-6 (7-4), 6-7 (3-7), 6-4 in three hours and 23 minutes. And when asked how he stayed strong and won the game, Isner joked: “I served…”
He certainly came out firing, bombing away from the back of the court and breaking Murray in only his second service game.
The Scot had two chances to break straight back but his opponent held to go 3-1 up and ended up taking the set on the back of hitting 17 winners. By then Murray was shaking his head and not even bothering to run for some of Isner’s drop shots.
With the local hero not even managing to get 50 per cent of his first serves in, ominous murmurs of impending doom settled over Centre Court. And by the end of the second set tie break Murray’s serve was bothering him so much he actually apologised out loud for fumbling a ball toss.
By contrast, Isner’s was cooking and he took the set with a pair of aces, one of them clocking up a whopping 136 miles per hour.
There was gallows humour too in the crowd with one wag shouting: “Come on Andy, he’s older than you!” in a reference to 37-year-old Isner’s veteran status.
This was the American’s 13th Wimbledon and he looked composed as he looked to close out the match in the third set.
Murray ripped off his cap in anger as Isner punished another poor serve with a blistering crosscourt forehand winner. But his fist-pumping roar was back the very next point.
That got the fans going, but when Murray called for more noise it was Isner who pumped up the volume, winning his next service game to love.
Murray then had to serve to stay in the match, which he did impressively without dropping a point, before getting the crowd pumped up by taking a 3-0 lead in the tie break.
And if the roof had been on when he closed it out and leapt into the air to let off steam, they would have lifted it off as they erupted with glee.
In the fourth set there was a swagger at times about Murray, who won one service game with an outrageously casual drop shot.
But he handed a crucial break in the fifth game to Isner, who then went 4-2 up before bad light forced a stoppage in play for the roof to come over and the lights to come on.
Murray rallied to prolong the tension but Isner’s serve came through to send him tumbling out in front of a shell-shocked Centre Court crowd.