Last night's raucous Louis Armstrong Stadium crowd chose showmanship over national identity, throwing vociferous support behind rallying Frenchman Gael Monfils in a dramatic struggle finally won by the U.S. Open's highest-ranked American, John Isner.
Only when Isner stung an inside-out forehand to bring up match point in the fourth-set tiebreaker did the fans suddenly turn back to home, chanting "U-S-A." Monfils' netted forehand at last ended Isner's 7-5, 6-2, 4-6, 7-6 (4) victory.
Hours after 26th seed Sam Querrey was shown the door by France's Adrian Mannarino, 7-6 (4), 7-6 (5), 6-7 (5), 6-4, the 13th-seeded Isner wrestled with Monfils in what technically was a day-session match that outlasted all other action, finally ending at midnight.
The 6-10 Isner had held the 39th-ranked Monfils at bay for two sets with his thunderbolt serve. But Monfils' stylish, go-for-broke play turned the crowd decidedly in his favor, clearly unsettling Isner, who took a nine-minute break after the third set to change his shirt and shorts.
Chants for Monfils repeatedly rose in the crowd, giving a sense that the two men were playing a Davis Cup match for their home nations. "He's a class act," Isner said of Monfils after their mighty struggle, "and it was so much fun to share the court with him. He gets cheered on wherever he goes."
Form mostly held through the long day, most obviously with No. 2 Rafael Nadal running qualifier Rogerio Dutra Silva of Brazil ragged in the feature Arthur Ashe Stadium night match, 6-2, 6-1, 6-0.
The other American winner was Jack Sock, the 20-year-old Nebraskan, who advanced to the Open's third round for the second straight year with a 7-6 (3), 1-6, 7-5, 6-2 victory over Argentina's Maximo Gonzalez, ranked 161 spots below Sock at No. 247.
As for Querrey, he said he was "pretty bummed," though he insisted he was not concerned of outsiders' expectations of him in as the second-ranked American man.