John Isner hit more aces than his opponent, 47-40. He delivered more total winners and finished with more overall points, too. What Isner failed to do for the first time in his career was beat an American foe at a Grand Slam tournament, and now the highest-ranked man from the U.S. is gone from the Australian Open.
Reilly Opelka, ranked just 97th, earned his first victory in a main-draw match at a major by edging Isner in four tiebreakers 7-6 (4), 7-6 (6), 6-7 (4), 7-6 (5).
Isner was seeded No. 9, was a semifinalist at Wimbledon last year and had been 9-0 in all-U.S. contests at the Slams.
If anyone is the 33-year-old's equal when it comes to big serving, though, it's Opelka, a 21-year-old based in Florida who at 6-foot-11 (2.11 meters) is an inch (3 centimeters) taller than Isner.
Isner went up a break in the fourth set and served to force a fifth while ahead 5-4. But he got broken there, missing one backhand followed by a trio of forehands. Opelka took the eventual - inevitable? - tiebreaker with the help with of three aces, including one at 227 kph (141 mph) to close out the match.
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