The critical juncture, after a 90-minute rain delay, was the third-set session, when Lopez won both of Isner's first two serves and looked far stronger in closing it out. When one last forehand volley from Isner sailed well wide, you got the idea that he might be packing soon.
Isner will always be remembered for the three-day feast of tennis he produced here four years ago against Nicolas Mahut. It ran more than 11 hours and comprised 183 games. This year, Isner's contribution to the record books was more modest. He threw in a 19-17 tiebreaker against Nieminen, the second-longest in Wimbledon's 128-year history.
Lopez, however, has produced the best results of his career here at the All England Club. A win over Wawrinka -- which is not a stretch given how well the Spaniard is playing -- would send Lopez into the fourth quarterfinal of his 29-12 Wimbledon career. He has never been past the fourth round of the other three.
The Spaniard is also coming off his second consecutive on the grass title at Eastbourne and has won seven straight matches on grass and 12 of his past 13. He's also held serve for 48 consecutive games, going back to the first round. The way he moves so freely on the living surface makes it easy to forget that he's 32 -- the same age as Roger Federer.
Lopez said that Isner's height creates unprecedented angles for his serve -- Lopez called it the best in the game -- and that his percentage is unnaturally high for someone who hits it so hard. Isner also sometimes hits his second serve nearly as hard as the first.
"To beat Johnny on that court is such a difficult task," Lopez said. "When you go through a difficult match like this, you have to be proud of yourself."