June 23, 2010
In his first round match with Frenchman Nicolas Mahut, our boy, John Isner, was all even at two sets a piece yesterday when play was suspended. This morning, the two simply needed to play the final and deciding fifth set to determine the winner. That set, however, now the longest set in tennis history, still isn't over. Play was suspended again tonight and Isner and Mahut will return to Court 18 tomorrow until a winner is decided or darkness interrupts again. At Wimbledon, there are no tiebreakers in the final set, so the players simply keep playing games until someone wins two in a row. They currently stand at 59-59. Isner had four match points during the day, but Mahut had an answer for each.
I've seen the word "epic" floated about in describing this match, but that term is inadequate. The longest match in pro tennis history was six hours and thirty-three minutes. The fifth set of this match, which I remind you isn't over yet, is currently at seven hours and six minutes. So, one fifth of this match is longer than the entire match of the former longevity record holder.
It's not epic, it's unbelievable in the most literal way possible. Isner: "Nothing like this will ever happen again. Ever." The scoreboards not only couldn't handle the numbers of the score, they just plain broke down completely, going utterly dark at 48 all. Even ESPN's scoretracker couldn't go above 50 games apiece. The match stats, which I won't bore you with, are enough to skew a data set so irreparably that it becomes nonsensical or comical. Both players broke the record for aces in a match.
You can follow a highly amusing account of the day at Wimbledon here, heavy on the crisp, dry British wit and highly recommended.
Tomorrow, they begin anew, both players looking for a single break point to capture a deciding advantage. John Isner is everything you want out of a famous athletic alum. He's always selling UGA on the tube and is always in a Georgia football hat off court. Break him, Johnny!