Here is a literal translation: GIMMEL-STOP: “I often hear from you about Big Man Tennis, from you and your coach, what exactly is it?” And Isner dutifully replies, “I see it to play aggressively and er...win or lose a point on my terms. If I can do that, er...whether I win or lose the match, I walk off the court pretty content”.
So let's deconstruct this. Now Gimmelstob seems to be claiming no ownership of this plagiaristic piece of crap. That is actually a good thing because I would like to believe that the Tennis Channel would not persist in having an ignoramus on their payroll. And look I get that the economy sucks and I would not wish job loss on anyone at this time, not even a misogynistic jackass. So it was great to hear Gimmelstob crediting the notion of “Big Man Tennis” to Isner and his coach. If only he would have the intelligence to stop promoting this non-starter of a concept.
So I decided to do an Internet search to see if I could find a statement from either Isner or his coach claiming that Isner plays Big Man Tennis. I found nothing. This is not to say that neither Isner nor his coach have made this claim, but only that I could Google no evidence of it. Maybe when Isner and his coach look in the mirror at the 6 foot 9 inches lanky player with his ill-fitting shirts, maybe they both gasp and exclaim in delight that he is such A! Big! Man! Who knows?!
Instead of statements from Isner and his coach making claims for the Big Man-ness of his game, I found a You Tube video titled “Big Man Tennis”, created in 2010 as a video tribute to Isner for winning the longest tennis match in history. The video is so impressive that (at the point that I am writing this article), it has attracted a total of THREE comments. Yes you read right, just THREE. (Of course Gimmel-Crap et al can feel free to prove me a liar by developing a special bot to add two thousand, nine hundred and ninety-seven more comments as proof of the Bigness of the Man named John Isner.)
But the reason why there are so few comments I believe, is because there is no one on this planet who believes that that match between Isner and Mahut was anything other than a prolonged crapfest. It was a long pointless piece of tata match of which both men should be thoroughly ashamed. I have never regarded it as anything that tennis should be proud to include in its history. No offense to the tennis fan who put together this spectacularly bad video. But the absence of comments is elucidating.
OK so back to the Gimmel-Please-Stop pre-match interview in which he attributed the label of Big Man Tennis to Isner and his coach. And Isner, surprisingly, seemed to own this. And he proceeded to define Big Man's Tennis as “playing aggressively” regardless of outcome.
Did I miss something? That's all it takes to play Big Man Tennis? To play aggressively? To win or lose on your own terms? Well in that case, I know a whole lot of women who play Big Man Tennis. Come to think of it, I often play it myself! In fact I was playing it just this morning! You should have seen me, penis-less of course, but aggressive as all get out. And I lost on my own terms too. I told the 75-year old woman who beat me that I was not surprised by a single point that she won against me. Had I known that this was all it took to play Big Man Tennis, I would have slapped my chest in pride every single time she aced my ass down the line. Woo Hoo, I would have shouted. I am losing on my own terms! I am content! I am playing Big Man Tennis!
The problem for Isner, I believe, is that he is finally paying the price for his inability to close out a frigging match. He may want to believe otherwise but he is no marathon man. Even the match against Mahut was distributed over three days. But this year alone he has lost in four sets to Feliciano Lopez at the Australian Open, in a record-setting long-assed five-setter to Paul Henri Mathieu at the French Open, and in a fith set lost to Alejandro Falla in the first round of Wimbledon. Add to that today's humiliating loss in five sets to Kohlscreiber and we are beginning to see a pointless pattern. If this is Big Man Tennis, he's welcome to keep it. But if he keeps playing it, his career will be over soon, never mind his top American ranking.
Add to that the childish temper displays evidenced during the match against Kohlscreiber today and we are seeing a player who is neither Big nor a Man. After double-faulting to give the fourth set to the German, Isner was penalized for a foot fault in the fifth set. I was so proud of Jim Courier for noting in his live commentary that foot fault calls at these tournaments are never wrong. In fact Courier suggested that foot faults are often not called and that players tend to get away with sneaking their feet across the line.
But Isner went beserk by the call. He yelled at the Chair. He smashed his racket to smithereens after sitting down. He received a point penalty. He was having not just a temper tantrum, but a major meltdown from which he never recovered. If there was a Big Man on the court I'm sorry but I would need Gimmelstob's help in finding him.