Peter Bodo's TennisWorld - 118 Games
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118 Games 06/23/2010 - 6:00 PM

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by Pete Bodo

John Isner put it best, in the brief on-court interview when play was suspended because of darkness today at Wimbledon, with Isner and Nicolas Mahut (Ma-hoo) deadlocked after the second day of their now 10-hour match, at 59 games all. That's a set of 118 games, and counting. I haven't done the addition, but I wouldn't be surprised if Rafael Nadal played fewer games than this set contained in an entire two-week run to the Roland Garros title.

"Nothing like this will ever happen again," Isner said, those Bambi-like eyes wide with wonder at what he'd been part of—what he's still going to be part of when the match resumes tomorrow on Court 18 at the All England Club. Fittingly, Court 18 is tucked up against the side of the Broadcast Center. One thing we know for sure: the match, with all those records it has immolated, all its historic peculiarities, will be fodder for the media—even on a day when the U.S. and England, two of the more media-saturated nations on the earth, advanced in World Cup soccer action.

At around 18-all in this match today, I found myself mentally composing the story I would write, which would be defense of these 16-14, 18-12, 10-8 in-the-fifth scores you get at Grand Slam events that eschew the fifth-set tiebreaker. And that you most especially get at Wimbledon.

Perhaps I have a perverse streak, but I like matches that go into overtime; I find them soothing and enjoyable, in a Zen kind of way. By the time the score reaches 9-all, it's clear that the players have fallen into a rhythm—one that, as the games roll by, begins to look suspiciously like self-induced hypnosis. As each man steps up to the line to crack yet another ace, or punches out a sizzling volley, he seems lost in a world of his own, in communion with himself in a way that's unusual in a one-on-one confrontation. He might be building a ship in a bottle, gardening, or trying to paint a woodland scene on the head of a pin.

That self-absorption of each player is fascinating, and it underscores something important about the game and the secret glory of tennis on grass, tennis at Wimbledon. On a surface so friendly to the big serve and bold placement, the game really is all about you—insofar as doing the job of holding serve (with no tiebreaker looming), is an achievable feat. Your destiny is more firmly in your own hands than in any other match you'll play, anywhere.

On no other surface does your level of execution have such a preemptive effect on the aspirations of your opponent: the grass court enables you to insulate yourself with excellence. It invites and dares you to slip into a cocoon where your opponent cannot touch you. Two men playing at the highest level on grass are immersed in a tough job that asks only that they focus on what they are doing. They work independent of each other, like neighbors at some corporate cube farm. It goes that way until least until one of them yields the high ground of execution, which inevitably happens. But it usually happens at 2-1 or 4-all, at a set apiece and 1-1. The beauty of today's set is that it didn't happen.

Ma-hoo, 28 and currently ranked No. 149 in singles, is a former boys' singles (18-and-under) champion, but as an adult he's never made it past the third round at Wimbledon. Isner, 25, is ranked No. 19 and has never won a match at Wimbledon (he missed last year with mono, and lost in the first round the only other time he's played). The details hardly matter, because both men have big serves (fittingly, today each of them shattered the record for most aces delivered in a match (78, held by Ivo Karlovic), even though this one isn't over yet: both men could have 100 aces by the time they finish.

The fact that these men could play to 59-all in a fifth set without either of them losing serve, even once, is borderline supernatural. There's something comforting knowing that a fellow can have such unequivocal control of his own destiny.

When we got around the 20-all mark, I found myself composing a lead paragraph, something about the ghosts of Pete Sampras and Kevin Curren, Boris Becker and John Newcombe, Steve Denton and Goran Ivanisevic, chuckling, nudging each other with their elbows as if to say, Remember guys? We used to be just like this, too. . .  So much for all this stuff about the slower grass. It's still. . . grass.

And don't Isner and Mahut know it.

But even something like that seemed somehow weak, given the way the match was going. Each player had found a groove, and moved into that psychological space in which the other guy, across the net, has nothing to do with it. The place where a sufficiently aggressive attitude and ability to execute was all he needed to go on. And on. And on. That this unique state of tennis grace visited both men on the same day is passing strange.

By the time we got to 30-all, the pattern began to emerge. Whenever Isner needed, he was able to reach back and deliver an ace, or unreturnable. And whenever Mahut, a guy known for being mentally shaky, needed a point on his serve, he stepped up and took one with all the confidence and aplomb of a barfly reaching for another peanut. It was a marvelous thing to see, if tiring in a way that all nail-biters will understand. I cant stand to watch another point of this; I can't look away. I'll watch just one more game. Please, let it end; don't end it now! That's it, I'll go for a run when they hit 40-all. It's 48-47 and I don't even dare go take a leak.

These matches have a minimalist kind of majesty. Because the rallies are so intense and brief (the longest one occurred with Mahut serving at 34-35, and it lasted all of 17 strokes, five shots more than the next longest to that point), the deep breath, arch of an eyebrow, or missed first serve is taken as an omen; a sign from on high that a turning point is imminent. If either returner managed to get to 15-all, the words "critical point" flashed through the spectator's mind. I can see how people thought the set was as exciting as watching grass grow, but I have a confession. I enjoy watching grass grow. Frankly, I like it a hail of a lot more than I like staring at my Blackberry.

The purity of this battle leaves me reluctant to engage in the ritual analysis. Sure, I felt that in the middle stages of the set (30-all, a middle stage—how weird is that?) Isner might have made a stronger effort to pressure Mahut. After all, the guy serving to stay even is always under more pressure than the guy with the one-game lead. At, say, 29-28, you need to step on the gas, apply the pressure. On the other hand, there's nothing wrong with following the old Sampras formula: don't get anxious or nervous, don't put yourself into a do-or-die situation when the other guy is serving. Just take care of your serve, and the rest will take care of itself.

The rest took care of itself. We're at an impasse presently because the rest took care of itself at both ends of the court.

I do question Mahut's decision to persuade the referee to postpone the end of the match, for I think that he was slowly but surely wearing down Isner. The 6-9 American's service speed was dropping, steadily, although he remained sufficiently determined to reach back and smoke one when he really needed it. Mahut was getting deeper and deeper into Isner's service games, and looked altogether fresher in the late stages of the set. But the rankings and statistics suggest Mahut was playing over his head—living in The Zone—while Isner was treading water, using those long, elastic arms and the aces they delivered with such discouraging regularity to keep himself afloat. Ma-hoo may wake up tomorrow morning to find himself transformed back onto Nicolas Mahut. With (relatively) fresh John Isner to serve first.

However, while Isner's feet and general movement late in the match did not lie, his body language did. When it comes to looking spent and, well, out-of-it, even vintage Sampras had nothing on this kid. But the laconic youth from North Carolina is unflappable in the same way that Sampras was, and I learned in a recent visit with him that he has an intelligent, realistic grasp of the game—in all its dimensions (more about that, probably tomorrow). He's one of the most competitively fit and able players out there, and that ought to pay a dividend when the match resumes.

But really, who can possibly know how it all will turn out? For when they stopped play this evening, it was as if a spell were broken. I can imagine many things tomorrow, but the one thing I don't foresee is a reprise of today. Today, was special. Today strained credulity. I think Isner hit the nail on the head when he said this will never happen again.


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Posted by Red 1.7.17.287⁺ = Legacy Solidified 06/23/2010 at 06:05 PM

first!

Posted by Cotton Jack (can the glory hunters keep away from my secondrate player, please) 06/23/2010 at 06:18 PM

"Maoo", not "Ma-hoo"

Posted by Cotton Jack (can the glory hunters keep away from my secondrate player, please) 06/23/2010 at 06:19 PM

I had this match on the laptop while watching England's vital match against Slovenia and my nerves were fried :-)

Posted by Red 1.7.17.287⁺ = Legacy Solidified 06/23/2010 at 06:19 PM

'it was as if a spell were broken. I can imagine many things tomorrow, but the one thing I don't foresee is a reprise of today. Today, was special. Today strained credulity. I think Isner hit the nail on the head when he said this will never happen again.'

Agree but it sure was some kinda special.

Posted by Pspace 06/23/2010 at 06:20 PM

Go John.

That is all.

Posted by DavidC 06/23/2010 at 06:21 PM

It was like watching the later stage of a boxing match. It wasn't so much about technique or purity (although I was surprised about the level of play at that stage), but it was about holding on. A magical day - and I agree, not to be repeated.

Posted by Mr.X (Live, from Minionland!) 06/23/2010 at 06:22 PM

"But really, who can possibly know how it all will turn out?"
Well Pete, the knowledgeable group known as the TWibe is giving it a shot today. This are the picks at this point:
just horsen: Isner, 65-63
ladyjulia: Isner, 63-61
beth: Mahut, 64-62
observer: Mahut, 63-61
Alexis: Isner, 64-62
Red: 75-73 for whoever
zenggi: Mahut, 65-63
Sherlock: Mahut, 87-85
Kate: Mahut, 70-68
Pspace: Isner, 65-63
sblily: Mahut, 64-62
Lurking: Mahut, 100-98
CL: Mahut, 72-70
yello fuzzy: Isner, 72-70
eclipse22: Isner, 62-60
Mr.X: Isner, 81-79
Lynne: No idea who, 63-61
Cotton Jack: Mahut, 61-59
TeamNadal: Isner, 21,900-21,898

Posted by Mr.X (Live, from Minionland!) 06/23/2010 at 06:25 PM

As for the post, i liked it, and i agree this was something truly special. It certainly will never happen again.
But i dont know if i agree that it was a bad choice by Mahut. Remember that in the very last game Isner had a MP, and he was the one actually getting closer to breaking. I think it's pretty safe to say that Mahut wasnt anywhere as fresh as he tried to look, but the only thing is that he's more experienced than Isner, who looked like he was about to collapse.
Day 3, and this Wimbledon has already made history. It truly is a special tournament.

Posted by Laskaris 06/23/2010 at 06:26 PM

When I first looked at the live scores today, the score for Isner - Mahut read 22 - 22 in the fifth. I thought the website had screwed up.

When I found out that the score was real, I sat down to watch the match. Then they kept playing for approximately five more hours. It feels more like twenty-five.

I'm as stunned as everyone else is. I mean, "ridiculous", "epic", "unbelievable" doesn't even begin to describe this match. Lots of respect to both players for their endurance and their focus under pressure.

I'll be sure to watch again tomorrow to see how the match ends. Unless they carry on into Friday, that is...

Posted by Kate 06/23/2010 at 06:34 PM

Mr. X, you have a poet's soul.

And a bookie's brain.

Posted by yello fuzzy 06/23/2010 at 06:34 PM

with all the confidence and aplomb of a barfly reaching for another peanut

very nice Pete.

I love that Isners 'hanged dog' posturing didn't effect his play. Mahut seemed fresher, but Isner kept coming up with the goods all the while looking totally spent.

Posted by Maria 06/23/2010 at 06:43 PM

It's a disgrace for Wimbledon that the continuation of the match is not scheduled on Centre Court tomorrow. I couldn't believe it: they are scheduled to resume on... Court 18!!! It's hard to imagine another match that would make this year's tournament more special, yet the organizers completely fail to see the moment. All players seemed in awe of this, Federer and the rest, and for good reason, yet Isner and Mahut's efforts are not recognized by the officials. Winner and loser should get some special reward and recognition. It's no longer so much about advancing to round 2.

Posted by Tari 06/23/2010 at 06:44 PM

I adore this match. It's famous already. I love when that happens to a sport I love, like the Galarraga perfect game (it WAS a perfect game), this match will acquit this sport well.

And perhaps have a few extra people tuning in tomorrow!

Posted by Metro 06/23/2010 at 06:44 PM

Oh good, there is a pool for Isner vs Mahut match. I would suggest 66 : 64 for Isner.

The vocal encourgement was interesting in the audience. IMO, the Nico, Nico chant has a better rhythm than Go John. Thanks John McEnroe for picking Isner on Monday. Wonder why the AEC does not move the match to a larger court.

Posted by Benny 06/23/2010 at 06:46 PM

Pete, well done! If the logistics could have been handled, why not immediately shift Isner, Mahut & spectators to CC with continuous play versus restarting tomorrow. All of the ebb and flow will be lost.

Posted by Mr.X (Live, from Minionland!) 06/23/2010 at 06:50 PM

OK, i'm leaving as of now, with the current situation of the poll:
just horsen: Isner, 65-63
ladyjulia: Isner, 63-61
beth: Mahut, 64-62
observer: Mahut, 63-61
Alexis: Isner, 64-62
Red: 75-73 for whoever
zenggi: Mahut, 65-63
Sherlock: Mahut, 87-85
Kate: Mahut, 70-68
Pspace: Isner, 65-63
sblily: Mahut, 64-62
Lurking: Mahut, 100-98
CL: Mahut, 72-70
yello fuzzy: Isner, 72-70
eclipse22: Isner, 62-60
Mr.X: Isner, 81-79
Lynne: No idea who, 63-61
Cotton Jack: Mahut, 61-59
Metro: Isner, 66-64
TeamNadal: Isner, 21,900-21,898

Keep making your bets, ladies and gentlemen. Come on in, and try your luck!
Hopefully, someone will continue keeping the scores.
See you tomorrow, everyone.

Posted by Lynne (Rafalite) 06/23/2010 at 06:51 PM

I can't believe what I actually saw this afternoon and it's only day 3 of Wimbledon ! Nothing seems beyond the realm of possibility.

Posted by Cotton Jack (can the glory hunters keep away from my secondrate player, please) 06/23/2010 at 06:53 PM

Maria - why should the players have to put up with a change of surface? No match gets moved for its continuation.

Posted by Trev 06/23/2010 at 06:53 PM

Wow! Two players exhibiting unshakeable psychological strength, where the tennis became a side-show and mental fortitude became the battle. These two people are an outstanding credit to their sport, their families and their nations. Wimbledon, the greatest stage for character examination there is, has again witnessed boys becoming men. T. GB

Posted by FoT 06/23/2010 at 06:55 PM

I know this has been mentioned before but we do need to repeat it for those who are suggesting a court change. Don't they have to finish the match on the same court it was started on? Plus, if you change courts, it might change the dynamic of the match and also those people who have tickets to court 18 would miss out so they would say it isn't fair to robb them of the finish of the match. Just my 2 cents.


On Roger....I am concerned about the 'tape' because that is something you NEVER see on Roger. I remember him wearing the ankle brace when he hurt that, but I have NEVER seen him have to wrap any part of his body before. I hope it's nothing 'nagging'.

On his match. I watched it from point 1 to the end and that guy was playing some serious tennis! He has a serve out of this world (when he finally got his toss under wrap). His backhand is fantastic too. He was having fun out there and it did seem like he had this "I have nothing to lose attitude" which Roger said everyone plays him like that for the last 6 years. Maybe now that he's struggling a little, people will appreciate what he's gone through to stay at the top or near the top all those years!

Posted by yello fuzzy 06/23/2010 at 06:57 PM

looking at the replay of the after match on court interviews, Mahut has a nice smile and that french charm. Isner is indeed 'doe-eyed'

Posted by L.Rubin 06/23/2010 at 06:57 PM

Bless Isner and Mahut for not only putting on a jaw-dropping performance, but, also, for getting us to STFU, if only for a day, about TMF and Rafa.

Amazing. Simply amazing.

Let's hope one Novak Djokovic watched this match and learned something. No, I take that back: he probably came down with whatever it is that bothers him (breathing issues? a jumpy stomach?) by simply watching these two go at it.

--Liron

Posted by Tari 06/23/2010 at 06:58 PM

Looking at the recap of this match. Aww. They're both adorable, and one of them has to LOSE this. *pain*

Posted by Metro 06/23/2010 at 06:59 PM

The BBC sports programme has just a spoof on Isner vs Mahut match.

Black screen with ball hitting racquet sound. score 153 : 153. lol

Posted by Tari 06/23/2010 at 06:59 PM

FoT: What was wrapped on Rog?

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 06/23/2010 at 06:59 PM

Pete, I have seen some pretty amazing things in this tennis world.Though I have just witnessed history and stats being made in a game that is kind of beyond my comphrension levels.

Posted by Maria 06/23/2010 at 06:59 PM

Cotton Jack: apart from the symbolic gesture of honoring both players, on centre court they would benefit from hawk-eye, and the court is probably better anyway. It's surely a more fitting stage for such an amazing match.

Posted by Benny 06/23/2010 at 06:59 PM

why should the players have to put up with a change of surface?

---------------------------------------------------------------

last i checked, court 18 & CC are both grass albeit 18 is now a bit more worn at the service lines.

Posted by FoT 06/23/2010 at 07:00 PM

Tari, there are some pictures over at rf.com that shows Roger has some type of wrap or bandage/tape on his right thigh. You can clearly see it on some of the pictures.

Posted by Stewart 06/23/2010 at 07:02 PM

Completely agree Maria I'm astounded at the idiocy of the organizers not putting this match square on Centre Court, never mind at least a court with Hawkeye. It's the most incredible match in the history of the sport (if not in quality of play in sheer competitive grit).

Not only is this decision an insult to a momentous moment in tennis, but more practically, the end of this match should occur on a court with Hawkeye capabilty. Can you imagine one of them winning a rally on match point only to have a bad or close call ruin it for them? Or one player giving his all to save a match point and his save being overruled?

There were several bad calls throughout the 41-all to 59-all span that I watched that Hawkeye would likely have overturned.

Disgusted with the Wimbledon organizers.

My prediction: Isner 64-62

Posted by beth 06/23/2010 at 07:03 PM

Tari - Fed's thigh is wrapped - I believe it is his left , but I could be wrong on the side

I don't think they should change courts . The grass surfaces are different . Besides - these two guys own that court 18 . It should be theirs for the duration of the event .
But , how far is court 18 from the locker room ? Couldn't Wimbledon have gotten those two young men a golf cart ride to the locker room when they left the court today ?
I could not believe my eyes , that they were walking away down the path at the end of the coverage

Posted by Colette (I can't be serious) 06/23/2010 at 07:03 PM

I wonder, with all of the records being set, is it also the first time a match has stretched out over three days? Or has rain made that happen.

Posted by angie 06/23/2010 at 07:04 PM

tie break please ! terrible day for tennis. what a joke

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 06/23/2010 at 07:05 PM

Cotton Jack I did post through the match that you would have been soo proud of Mahut

Crazy thing being to me he didnt look tired at all.Amazing given the time etc.

I want what he is ON.

Posted by beth 06/23/2010 at 07:05 PM

oops - right thigh

Colette - you cannot be serious , is right ! I imagine your question was tongue in cheek -
Think Nadal / Sod - 07

Posted by Tari 06/23/2010 at 07:06 PM

Thanks, FoT and beth. Worrisome.

Posted by Colette (I can't be serious) 06/23/2010 at 07:06 PM

"I want what he is ON."

He owes it to me, since, thanks to those two, I'm starting my workday now!

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 06/23/2010 at 07:07 PM

Beth I agree.This match has to go on where it left off.At this stage it would not have the same meaning at all.

Posted by Keith 06/23/2010 at 07:07 PM

If any of these two have something akin to a ROS, this would never have happened. Talking about one-sided game. That's the reason they decided to slow down the surface 9 years ago, to avoid silly serve-fests.

This particular match is incredible only because noone has yet choked, not because of any great game. Aces, serve winners or 1-2 combos only. Please, somebody, try and find something other than that tomorrow and finish off this trainwreck of a match.

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 06/23/2010 at 07:08 PM

Colette lol! I had a nap after the match

Posted by Metro 06/23/2010 at 07:10 PM

Colette - The Nadal vs Soderling match in 2007 started on Friday and lasted 5 days with plenty rain delays.

Posted by FoT 06/23/2010 at 07:13 PM

Tara try this link:

http://www.facebook.com/wimbledon?v=wall#!/photo.php?pid=4460656&id=15690358731&fbid=402974228731

Posted by beth 06/23/2010 at 07:16 PM

AM - I think whatever Mahut is "on" should be served to some of his french tennis compatriots - you know the ones not exactly known for their mental stability or their physical stamina ?

He needs to share his training secrets asap

Posted by Christine S. 06/23/2010 at 07:18 PM

Awesome and very special day. It is sad that someone will have to lose, but they should both be proud and tennis should be proud of these two men too.

Posted by Matt Zemek 06/23/2010 at 07:18 PM

Pete,

The only - and highest - compliment I can pay you is the only one that matters:

Your piece was worthy of the event it described.

Thanks as always!

Posted by Colette (I can't be serious) 06/23/2010 at 07:21 PM

No one will ever again ask Ma-who??

Posted by Red 1.7.17.287⁺ = Legacy Solidified 06/23/2010 at 07:21 PM

I say leave them right where they are. They have produced the match of the tournament (thus far) from that location. They've achieved a certain comfort level there. Centre Court would most likely change the dynamics of the match.

Posted by Mr. and Mrs. D. 06/23/2010 at 07:21 PM

Yes, the continuation of this match is deserving of centre court, but I certainly don't see following a long-standing rule as disgraceful or a form of idiocy....just my opinion.

Posted by Tari 06/23/2010 at 07:21 PM

thanks, FoT. I LOL'd at the comments:
"Bandage???"
"Bandage."
"Bandage!"
"gasp! uh oh..."

Posted by Mr. and Mrs. D. 06/23/2010 at 07:22 PM

Btw, I definitely approve of Beth's golf cart suggestion....rule or no rule!:)

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 06/23/2010 at 07:22 PM

Beth Indeed.I kept pinching myself and say yes he is French isnt he?

Both men were just "awesome" and played at such a high level for 10 hours?

I am done Honestly!

Posted by Fangorina 06/23/2010 at 07:22 PM

That was an all-time sporting moment for all sport. I had to leave at 28-all-ish, and I made it back by 55-54. I lived and died by the scoreboard in between. Superlative effort by both players. Let anyone call tennis players effete, or question whether tennis is a sport, which sadly, some do. Not after than display.

Posted by Fangorina 06/23/2010 at 07:22 PM

*that* display.

Posted by sisu (formerly “just a note/jan”) 06/23/2010 at 07:23 PM

Tari, if you haven't seen a picture, here's one:

http://twitpic.com/1zc87h

Posted by Maria 06/23/2010 at 07:24 PM

Well, how different can the courts really be: they are on the same grounds after all, I'm sure the quality is uniformly great. If anything, the main courts are even better than the rest, one gets fewer bad bounces etc. If you argue the courts are so different you can argue that every square meter of grass is different from any other even on the same court, but that's pushing it... It's certainly a disruption to be moved on a different court while the play is still on, but seeing that they start a fresh day tomorrow, there's no practical disadvantage, on the contrary.

So I still think they should be moved to centre court in recognition of the achievement and its uniqueness. I also don't agree with some of the comments here that the quality of the play has been weak and this is just a battle of wills. There have been great shots by both players, sharp volleys, and this leaving aside the serving. Mahut is an elegant player, and Isner can hit some nice winners too.

Posted by Keith 06/23/2010 at 07:26 PM

And one more thing: during the course of a match, one is supposed to learn the game of your opponent and adapt your tactics accordingly. Not just go on and on and on as is. Here both do just that, bang their heads against the wall learning nothing in the process.

One of the worst matches tactically and tennistically speaking. Only commendable things - concentration and stamina. All else - fail.

Posted by Red 1.7.17.287⁺ = Legacy Solidified 06/23/2010 at 07:27 PM

Maria,
The atmosphere on Centre Court at Wimbledon is definitely not the same on court 18. It could overwhelm one of or both players.

Posted by Metro 06/23/2010 at 07:30 PM

Interesting fact. Normally Londoners don't talk to strangers in the underground/train. I travelled from Wimbledon by train home and some strangers talked about the match. It was transcending the distance.

Wonder what routine Isner and Mahut have. Special meals, massage, oxygen, game plan talk with the coach. They surely will have lots of text messages on the mobiles.

Posted by Fangorina 06/23/2010 at 07:31 PM

They say the fifth set is always about heart, not tennis or tactics. This one certainly is.

Posted by Maria 06/23/2010 at 07:32 PM

Red, maybe they are sick of Court 18 and want a change :) I would be, after so many hours...

Posted by Tari 06/23/2010 at 07:32 PM

Thanks, sisu!

It's a nice thought to have them play on Centre Court, but playing it where it started makes so much more sense. And it's probably first-come, first-served seating over there, right? I love that.

Posted by Matt Zemek 06/23/2010 at 07:33 PM

As for the 5th set tiebreak issue, I say this.

Make it a battle, but set a limit.

Have them play normal tennis, but then at 24-all (equivalent of four full sets) or perhaps 30-all (five full sets), play a tiebreak.

I think it's quite reasonable to say that at 30-all in a fifth set, the endurance has been tested and a stalemate has emerged. But don't impose a tiebreak at 6-all in the fifth. Make them fight, endure and persevere since this is tennis's most hallowed and prestigious championship.

I don't mind the US Open doing the tiebreak because grass (and clay) are far more forgiving than hardcourts. I would say the Aussie Open should adopt the fifth-set breaker, but make an exemption for the championship match (USO should make a championship-match exemption, too).

Posted by Red 1.7.17.287⁺ = Legacy Solidified 06/23/2010 at 07:36 PM

You may be right. They may also be sick of this match. Besides the Queen is in attendance tomorrow they may feel added pressure to perform.

Posted by Maria 06/23/2010 at 07:37 PM

I think they would feel the glory rather than the pressure...

Posted by Red 1.7.17.287⁺ = Legacy Solidified 06/23/2010 at 07:39 PM

I admire your positive spin.

Posted by Colette (I can't be serious) 06/23/2010 at 07:40 PM

"Have them play normal tennis, but then at 24-all (equivalent of four full sets) or perhaps 30-all (five full sets), play a tiebreak."

Maybe they will after this. Guess it's never really been "an issue" before.

Posted by ActionFlunky 06/23/2010 at 07:41 PM

Keith -- LOL. I have a feeling your opinion is waaaaaaay in the minority but couldn't help but laugh, especially over your first post. Maybe call it a tie at 59-all and give DeBakker the walkover to the third round.

Fed with the sneaky thigh bandage. Hmmm .... Well, given the first two rounds, certainly seems like he needs to up the degree of difficulty.

Posted by Mr Rick 06/23/2010 at 07:42 PM

Maria - it would be cruel to put those two players on Centre Court. Tomorrow, they will be lucky if they can even hold a tennis racquet in their hands. You want to add to the unbelievable pressure they are now under, as well as significantly change the conditions of the match, by moving them to Centre Court? Yes, let's just make things a little harder for these exhausted guys, what a great idea...

Court 18 is now immortalized and that is where they should finish the match. The stands will be overflowing with fans, which will be tribute enough.

Posted by Tari 06/23/2010 at 07:44 PM

This is the match that never ends, yes it goes on and on my friends. Two people started playing it, not knowing what it was, and they'll continue playing it forever just because...

Posted by leigh 06/23/2010 at 07:45 PM

I think at 118 games all in the Fifth, you have to keep the match on court 18. Something magic out there.
Don't change a thing.
It might be helpful to be able to challenge a call, but I think that would also change some of the dynamics
of this match. I think this ref. did an outstanding job overruling some of the calls.

Posted by leigh 06/23/2010 at 07:47 PM

Does anyone have a picture they can post of Fed with the thigh wrap?
I have not seen this.

Posted by Lurking 06/23/2010 at 07:48 PM

I agree with Matt Zemmek. There has to be a limit at some point.
My problem with no tiebreak in the final set is why then do we have tiebreaks at the end of other sets? Are players who win in three or four sets via a tiebreak in the last set less deserving?

Posted by FoT 06/23/2010 at 07:51 PM

leigh, go up a little further - a link was provided with Fed's wrapped thigh.

Posted by yello fuzzy 06/23/2010 at 07:53 PM

leigh
http://twitpic.com/1zc87h

Posted by pogiako 06/23/2010 at 07:54 PM


The queens of UK, Sweden, and Spain will be coming tomorrow. Naturally, they want to see their sufjects play. So Murray, Caroline, and Rafael will be playing.

Posted by Maria 06/23/2010 at 07:56 PM

Why would Isner and Mahut be under unbelievable pressure? I think with this match it's no longer so important who makes it to round 2 of Wimbledon, both players have created an incredible, unrepeatable occasion and they fully understand it. This takes the pressure off and they earned the right to a moment of glory. If you wish, they are both winners and at the same time both losers, for it's unlikely (although I guess not impossible) that the actual winner will go very deep in the tournament after such an exhausting marathon. Anyway, sorry for posting too insistently about this, I'll stop now.

Posted by leigh 06/23/2010 at 07:58 PM

Thank you, yellow fuzzy (andFoT)
That doesn't look good. Did it impair his movement today? I only saw a little
of the match.

Posted by ActionFlunky 06/23/2010 at 08:00 PM

"My problem with no tiebreak in the final set is why then do we have tiebreaks at the end of other sets? Are players who win in three or four sets via a tiebreak in the last set less deserving?"

My guess is the tie-break, once upon a time, was considered radical, and a place seeped in tradition like Mrs. Strawberries and Cream came around to it grudgingly, you know, agreeing to institute the new-fangled idea for all sets but, heaven forbid, not the deciding one. Hockey, I think, has kind of a similar contradiction with their shootout for reg season/unlimited OTs for the playoffs rules.

I'm mostly okay with it. Mahusner is a play in need of a revlover, but it's not like such a thing is a regular occurrence.

Posted by yello fuzzy 06/23/2010 at 08:00 PM

Roger has spent a lot of time on court..., he may have pulled or aggravated the thigh muscle. he took a nasty spill in the 1st round match too

Posted by Ethan 06/23/2010 at 08:01 PM

After they walked off the court, I almost got aroused looking at what a bad shape the court was in. It is absolutely perfect now for Nadal - they should reschedule the Nadal-Soderling match to this court so there will be plenty of dug up dirt pieces and layers to pummel Soderling's VIKING FACE into the chemically treated grass!

Posted by leigh 06/23/2010 at 08:01 PM

Maria,, Believe me, Neither of these players feel like it is no longer important who makes it through.
What do you think they are fighting for??
The disappointment for the loser will be great!
True, they will know they are part of history. But they want to be the Winner in that historical data!!!!

Posted by Puffin 06/23/2010 at 08:05 PM

mmm - wonder how long Roger has been wearing that bandage - since the semi-final at Halle, maybe? Just a thought!

Mahut vs Isner : 63:61 to Mahut

Posted by Matt Zemek 06/23/2010 at 08:05 PM

Lurking:

It was Wimbledon (well, and Jimmy Van Alen) who made the notion of a tiebreak realistic.

In the first round of the 1969 Wimbledon tournament, Pancho Gonzalez defeated Charlie Pasarell with this scoreline:

22-24, 1-6, 16-14, 6-3, 11-9.

The realization that all five sets could go on forever made the tiebreak necessary.

Tennis is a big-point sport, anyway: It's not the total number of points, but the clusters of points you win. If 12 games can't decide the first four sets, play a tiebreak, but the deciding set should be "normal tennis" precisely because the first four sets are truncated. At 25-25 or thereabouts, the fact has been definitively established that the two players are even. But anyway, the tiebreak isn't cheap.... not after Pancho-Pasarell '69. That match gave us the tiebreak (and Mr. Van Alen).

Posted by Ethan 06/23/2010 at 08:06 PM

"Colette - The Nadal vs Soderling match in 2007 started on Friday and lasted 5 days with plenty rain delays."

Exactly and we all know what happened then - Soldering had his pigeon head forcefully and strongly rammed, nose-first into the grass in the 5th set and he cried in the locker room behind the stalls, nobody saw him, but he did and then pretended everything was okay in the press conference but he didn;t realise the tissues were still dangling from his SAAB head on the camera.

Posted by leigh 06/23/2010 at 08:10 PM

Matt Z. Very Interesting. Looking at those scores from Pancho/Charlie match, makes sense why the scoring
is the way it is today. Thanks for the info.

Posted by Keith 06/23/2010 at 08:12 PM

Ilija Bozoljac seems to be some kind of a Serbian equivalent of Feli Lopez - talented, underperforming, womanizing, modelling type:
http://www.ilija-bozoljac.net/gallery/albums/userpics/10001/n503822091_470641_8825.jpg

Posted by Colette (I can't be serious) 06/23/2010 at 08:14 PM

Btw, thanks to all who answered. Unfortunately, I was out-of-pocket for most of that tourney and "seeing is remembering."

Posted by Lurking 06/23/2010 at 08:14 PM

ActionFlunky,

I'm mostly Ok with it too but always wondered where the logic was since in the true sense the deciding set is the last set played, be it 3rd, 4th or 5th.

I don't follow hockey but it seems to me that they are making a difference because of the importance of the matches (?) Maybe the same can be applied to tennis? Allow tiebreaks for regular rounds and no tiebreak for the championship match?

I know this is not a 'normal' occurance but the possibilities of other factors affecting the outcome (weather, light) are increased every time a match extends beyond the regular five sets.

Posted by Colette (I can't be serious) 06/23/2010 at 08:15 PM

And Soldering lol

Posted by ActionFlunky 06/23/2010 at 08:16 PM

Interesting indeed, Matt Z. Was it Wimbledon, also, that first adopted the TB (in terms of the Slams)? If so, just one more reason why it's the most coveted title in the tennis world: inimitable tradition coupled with cutting-edge thought -- though I guess the whole changing-the-grass story is already evidence of that.

Posted by leigh 06/23/2010 at 08:18 PM

Does anyone know what will happen with the Doubles matches that both Isner and Mahut are scheduled to play tomorrow? And their next opponent is DeBakker. Will that match be scheduled for Friday? with the Top Half?

Posted by sisu (formerly “just a note/jan”) 06/23/2010 at 08:18 PM

Anyone know why Bozoljac wouldn't have a press interview from today's match? Thx.

Posted by FoT 06/23/2010 at 08:20 PM

leigh, I think Roger's movement was ok today. I don't think that bandage/tape affected him in the movement department. I think it was more Ilija's serve and backhand that bothered Roger. lol! Finger's cross that his thigh is ok.

Posted by Sherlock 06/23/2010 at 08:20 PM

Ethan, lay off the steroids. They are making you abnormally angry. :)

Posted by Tari 06/23/2010 at 08:23 PM

LOL, Sherlock. Was gonna say...eep.

Posted by Lurking 06/23/2010 at 08:24 PM

Matt Zemmek,
Thanks for that piece of interestng information. I'm afraid my knowledge of tennis history is not very extensive :)
It gives me a new appreciation for tiebreaks!

Posted by Sherlock 06/23/2010 at 08:25 PM

Tari, yeah, eep indeed. :)

Posted by Heather 06/23/2010 at 08:25 PM

64-62 Mahut

Posted by temes 06/23/2010 at 08:25 PM

I really hope the match will last atleast an hour more tomorrow...otherwise it's just anticlimatic!

Posted by leigh 06/23/2010 at 08:25 PM

"Mahut actually has some recent experience in such matters: He won a four-hour match in the second round of qualifying last week that ended 24-22 in the third set."

I didn't know that Mahut came through qualifying with the above results!!!

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