“Going Up to the Plate” to Serve in the Longest Professional Tennis Game Ever Played

Thursday, June 24. 2010, ESPN Television, Patrick McEnroe Commentator:

The 5th set at Wimbledon, score 63-62, in the Isner, Mahout tennis match: Isner is “Going Up to the Plate to Serve.”  And paraphrasing Mr. McEnroe: It takes the pressure off.  Mr. Isner finally won the match in the 5th set at 70-68 with a “screaming” shot down the line.

New York Times, Friday, June 25, 2010, “Sports Friday”: Game, Set, and 3 Days Later, Match.” Nicholas Mahut, who lost the longest match recorded in professional tennis stated: “We played the greatest match ever in the greatest place to play tennis.”

Going to the plate is a baseball term for going to bat.

Perhaps Patrick McEnroe is a baseball fan or played baseball as well as being a great tennis player.  Although both players held their serves resulting in a long, long match, the metaphor /idiom, Going up or stepping up to the plate, the latter more commonly used, was a reference to power serves determining the game winner.

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