Struggling Sela can't take the heat in Atlanta

Young topples Israel's number one in first round.

July 22, 2010 04:53
2 minute read.
Dudi Sela

Dudi Sela 311. (photo credit: Alastair/AP)

Dudi Sela’s recent struggles continued on Tuesday night when he was knocked out in the first round of the Atlanta Tennis Championships.

Israel’s number 1, who dropped out of the world’s top-100 last week and is currently ranked No. 102, took the first three games of his match against Donald Young (105), but lost his serve three times in both the first and second sets and fell to a 7-5, 6-0 defeat.

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Meanwhile, preparing for his first event since needing over 11 hours and 183 games at Wimbledon to beat Frenchman Nicolas Mahut, America’s John Isner has adjusted to a new public life.

“Yeah, but I really try to stay out of the spotlight,” Isner said Tuesday. “I don’t see myself as a celebrity at all.”

Maybe not, but Isner understands there are worst things to be known for. After all, what’s wrong with appearing on the television’s Late Show with David Letterman, throwing out a ceremonial first pitch at Yankee Stadium and winning a made-for-TV award on ESPN? Perhaps if Isner had raised his hand for attention it would be different for the third-year professional. But as Isner sees it, he was just doing his job at Wimbledon.

In the strangest career twist he could imagine, Isner wondered if the tennis gods had tossed him into some kind of cruel kaleidoscope. The match began on a Tuesday, and after getting suspended twice because of darkness, it mercifully ended on a Thursday afternoon.

Now that he’s a month removed from the gauntlet, Isner acknowledges the epic match “is probably going to stick with me probably forever.”

What the 6-foot-9 Isner wants, however, is to earn tennis fans’ respect for other reasons, too.

“Now it’s up to me to really not make this a lasting image of my career,” he said. “Right now, I am in the top 20 in the world and I feel like I’m going to continue to keep climbing, and my ultimate goal is to be in the top 10 and contend at the really big tournaments.”

After receiving a first-round bye as the No. 2 seed at the Atlanta Tennis Championships, Isner played a second-round match against Gilles Muller of Luxembourg late Wednesday.

The Atlanta event marks the tour’s return to hardcourts for the first time in North America since Miami at the end of March.

For Isner, who won in Auckland on hardcourts six months ago for his first career title, the last month has been a time for practice and reflection.

He listed new personal goals, foremost being a desire to move out of the 183-game shadow.

“It’s getting a little bit – I don’t want to say annoying – but I’ve just answered, obviously, an awful lot of questions about it,” Isner said. “I want to put it behind me because I think after my match tomorrow here maybe the questions will be focused more on that match and the rest of the tournament.”

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