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No marathon, but John Isner needs plenty of time to advance

WIMBLEDON -- Maybe it's because he's so been there and done that at the All England Club. Or maybe John Isner simply has a bottomless reservoir of patience. Another possibility: Since he's 6-foot-10, maybe length, in general, simply doesn't bother him.

As rain pushed his first-round match, scheduled for Tuesday, into Wednesday and then into Thursday, his opponent, Marcos Baghdatis, was often churlish and argumentative with chair umpire Mohamed Lahyani. Isner, the American ace machine, merely went about his business.

He eventually dispatched Baghdatis 7-6 (2), 7-6 (5), 6-3.

Compared to the 2010 epic with Nicolas Mahut that also ran across a Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday -- the fifth-set score was 70-68 -- this one was over in a relative flash. Isner, and even Lahyani, who called that memorable match, both looked as fresh a dish of strawberries and cream.

Small wonder. This week's match required 148 fewer games and 528 fewer minutes than the one in 2010.

What's wrong with American tennis? On Thursday at Wimbledon, absolutely nothing. With the rain holding off for a change, the floodgates opened for American players, who went 10-4.

Swiftly joining Isner in the second round after completing suspended first-round matches were No. 18 Sloane Stephens and Donald Young, a Wimbledon junior champion nine years ago, who beat Leonardo Mayer 6-4, 7-5, 3-6, 6-3.

Americans into the third round: No. 28 Sam Querrey, a 6-4, 6-3, 6-2 winner over Thomaz Bellucci, and No. 9 seed Madison Keys, who outlasted Kirsten Flipkens 6-4, 4-6, 6-3.

No. 8 Venus Williams defeated Maria Sakkari 7-5, 4-6, 6-3, No. 27 Jack Sock handled Robin Haase 6-1, 6-3, 6-7 (3), 6-4, Steve Johnson took down Jeremy Chardy 6-1, 7-6 (6), 6-3 and qualifier Julia Boserup stunned No. 7 seed Belinda Bencic, who retired trailing 6-4 1-0.

Afterward, Isner said his match reminded him more of this year's French Open than the 2010 marathon.

"I was supposed to play on Sunday and I finished on Tuesday," he said in his postmatch press conference. "It's not a great feeling when you're going out there and playing, finishing your first round when some guys are already in the third round. But just the long days in the locker room, the last two days were just brutal.

"You can only play so much putt-putt in the locker room with your friends and whatnot."

Isner produced Isner-like numbers, stroking 33 aces; moreover, 57 of his 91 serves (63 percent) were unreturnable and he was unbroken in 15 service games. He also had 56 winners and only 32 unforced errors.

He's now won all seven of his matches against Baghdatis, who was a semifinalist here a decade ago. Isner, also 31 years old, extended his record at Wimbledon to 8-7. It's a surprisingly mediocre mark on grass for a player with his kind of firepower. This is the only Slam where Isner hasn't reached the fourth round.

His booming serve, of course, works better on the slick grass.

"I mean, if I hit my spots on my serve, a lot of times it's night-night," Isner explained. "If I go T and I hit T, the ball's going to shoot through the court. On the flip side of that, the ball stays low and skips through.

"I've got to be very, very diligent about staying low and keeping my big frame down low. The more time I have, generally, the better. If I play the right way and do that at a consistent level, then grass can definitely be very, very good for me."

In keeping with the theme of length, Isner's second-round opponent, qualifier Matthew Barton of Australia, played a 4-hour, 3-minute match that ended 14-12 in the fifth. What secrets of recovery would the vastly more experienced Isner share with Barton?

"I'm not going to say anything about that," Isner said, smiling mischievously. "I'm kidding. That's a joke.

"I think in his match they probably weren't many long points. It went a three-day match like mine, sort of. It's not like he played all five sets today or whatnot. I don't expect him to be laboring any tomorrow. He'll come out guns blazing just like I will."

It almost sounded like he was looking forward to his third straight day on the court.