TODAY   |  June 24, 2010

Isner: I have no skin left on my toes

American tennis player John Isner speaks with TODAY’s Matt Lauer about continuing his epic, three-day Wimbledon tennis match against France’s Nicolas Mahut, saying: “I’m a little haggard” and “I have no skin on my pinkie toes.”

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This content comes from a Full-Text Transcript of the program.

MATT LAUER, co-host: We're back at 8:10. This was the scene at Wimbledon on Wednesday, what is now the longest tennis match in history. American John Isner and Nicolas Mahut of France began their opening round match on Tuesday, and after 10 hours of action it is still not over.

MEREDITH VIEIRA, co-host: Isner just arrived at the All England Club , where he will try to wrap things up today, at least he hopes so. John , good morning to you.

LAUER: Hey, John.

VIEIRA: And how are you feeling this morning?

Mr. JOHN ISNER (Competing in Longest Tennis Match in History): You know, I'm a -- I'm a little haggard, I'd like to say. Obviously, you know, I didn't really -- I think I only slept like six hours last night. The sun came beaming in at 4 AM here. So the body's not feeling there. I have no skin on either one of my pinkie toes. It's been tough out there. But hopefully, you know, I can come out there today and get it done.

LAUER: John , I talked to one of your friends yesterday. He had just left you in the training room after the match . Just give me an idea of what exactly you went through in the hour or two after the match to try to, you know, get your energy back and get your body in shape.

Mr. ISNER: Yeah, first thing I did was drink a recovery shake. I knew I had to get some sort of calories in my body. And then my coach came barreling in the locker room with a plate of pasta, a plate of vegetables, a plate of some sort of meat, and I just had to try to -- try to wolf it down. But I wasn't even hungry at that point, I don't know what it was. I had to -- really had to wait like 45 minutes to an hour till I could really start, you know, putting the -- putting the carbs back in my body.

VIEIRA: Yeah. I'm wondering, by the end of yesterday's play -- I mean, seven hours of tennis -- how much of it at the end was mind over matter at that point?

Mr. ISNER: Yeah, it all was. You know, I want to say for the last three hours, you know, I was just kind of rolling my serve in. And luckily for me, any time the ball got to my forehand I seemed to hit a winner on it. And I was definitely tiring out there. My opponent, believe it or not , didn't seem to be tired at all. He was like Spider-Man out there jumping around. It was remarkable, what he was doing. But, you know, I'll be able to hold on and, you know, keep the match even. And obviously, you know, here we are at 59-all and, you know, this could either -- this could go another four hours, it could go 10 minutes . So we'll see what happens.

LAUER: Yeah. John , I want to talk to you -- you know, we've talked physically. Now I want to talk emotionally. The stress and the strain of this, because there were several moments where one errant stroke on your part or on Nicolas ' part would have ended the match . So how did you handle the pressure of it?

Mr. ISNER: Yeah, I don't really know how I handled it. I mean, I just -- I just stayed calm. I went to my towel. You know, when I was in a hole in my serve, I'd go to my towel, I'd come back, I'd hit a serve and I'd unleash a forehand and it kept on going in the court. And really, the same thing goes for him. Any time I had love-30 -- I remember one game I had love-30 and he aced me four times in a row. So it was really nothing I could do. We both seemed to play our best tennis at the crucial moments of -- in the match during our service games.

VIEIRA: You know, talking about pressure, even Andy Roddick was tweeting about this. How did you guys go the whole day without using the bathroom? Everybody was talking about, how are these guys surviving?

Mr. ISNER: Yeah. I mean, it was -- it was ridiculous. I mean, Andy actually -- I heard he was tweeting about it. He actually was a good pal and went out -- went out onto the town and got me a bunch of food and brought it back -- brought it back to the locker room for me. So he kind of -- he kind of saved the night for me. But really, you know, we didn't even take a bathroom break up until 58-all or something like that. And, you know, eventually I just, I couldn't hold it in any longer. I had to -- I had to go to the bathroom. So I don't -- I really don't know how to explain what went on yesterday. I know, you know, people say, you know, it was something like that it was a dream. I honestly thought I was going to wake up -- wake up any moment after the match .

LAUER: Well, has the history side of it sunk in with you yet? I mean, forever, no matter what happens today -- and we'll talk about what could happen today in a second -- no matter what happens today, you are in the history books in the world of tennis.

Mr. ISNER: Mm-hmm.

LAUER: What's it mean to you?

Mr. ISNER: Yeah, it's, you know, it's pretty neat. Obviously, you know, I'd like to go in the history books for, you know, winning, you know, say, a grand slam or a huge tournament. But, you know, this is -- this is pretty special. And I have a feeling I'm going to be in the history books for a long time. This will -- this one is probably going to stand the test of time.

LAUER: Yeah. But of course, you -- while it's nice to be involved in the longest tennis match in history, what you really want to be known for is winning...

VIEIRA: Winning.

LAUER: ...the longest tennis match in history. So how worried are you about going out there today and, after your body's been beaten to a pulp, getting back to that same high level of play you were at yesterday?

Mr. ISNER: Yeah, it's going to be tough. Obviously, I'm sore. You know, I'm sure he's sore. There's some things tactically that I'm going -- I'm going to do different now that I, you know, had some time to talk with my coach. And I 'm also like the fact that I'm serving first. You know, really -- so really it puts the pressure on him to -- you know, if I -- if I can hold that first game, for him to hold. If he doesn't, the match is over. So I like the position I'm in and, you know, I'm confident I can -- I can get it done.

VIEIRA: Is there any ritual you go through before a game?

Mr. ISNER: Yeah, there usually is. But, you know, I'm throwing all that out -- throwing all that out the window today. I'm actually going to, you know, warm up probably 30 minutes prior to my match today, whereas I usually warm up like two, three hours before. I'm just going to make sure I go out onto the court, you know, in a sweat. I don't want to be -- I don't want to be cold at all because if I do that, the match could end in five minutes.

LAUER: Well, John , I just want to say it's really nice of you to talk to us before the match .

VIEIRA: Sure is.

LAUER: We kind of expected you to say, `OK, I'll talk after the match .' But you got a big day ahead of you. You're part of history. And do us a favor, will you stop by here in New York in the studio when you come into town for the US Open ?

Mr. ISNER: I'd love to do that. That's the -- that's the -- that's, you know, my favorite event, so I look forward to it.

LAUER: We'd love it, too. Good luck today, John .

VIEIRA: Yeah, John , good luck.

Mr. ISNER: All right, thank you, guys. Thanks for having me on.

LAUER: All right, NBC Sports coverage of Wimbledon begins this weekend on both Saturday and Sunday at noon Eastern time right here on NBC . And just ahead, you have some -- your hands full.