Take Tuesday off of work and then take Wednesday too. Set your DVRs to go over the allotted time by a few hours. And ensure your couch cushions are well fluffed and the house stocked with the staples. Nicolas Mahut and John Isner are playing again in the first round of Wimbledon.
One year after their historic three-day, 11-hour match shattered records and inextricably linked the names of the American and Frenchman forever, the pair will play again in the first round of Wimbledon. Improbably, Isner's name was selected in slot No. 83 of Wimbledon's lottery-like draw and a few seconds later, Mahut's followed as No. 84.
The odds against a rematch were long, but not astronomical. There was a 1 in 127 chance the two would play again in 2011. However, the odds of playing two years in a row at the same tournament are well over 10,000 to 1, a number still lower than the likelihood of playing a 70-68 fifth set.
"I couldn't believe it," Isner told reporters on Friday. "I joked with him last week and said 'watch us play each other.' He said, 'no, there's no way.'"
An early consensus among tennis fans was that they feel sorry for Mahut for drawing Isner again. Here was his chance to make a name for himself doing something else at Wimbledon and now he's stuck rehashing the same stories he would have had to anyway. It's like Groundhog Day.
I disagree with that sentiment. I'd feel sorry for Mahut if he drew Rafael Nadal in the first round. Playing Isner again is great for him, and Isner too. They're the story of the draw and how often does that happen with two unseeded players? While Roger Federer and Serena Williams are cruising to first-round victories, Mahut-Isner will be treated like a Grand Slam final. Before, the result of each's matches would have been tacked on at the end of some Wimbledon broadcast like, "Hey, remember that guy who was in that long match last year? He played today." Now, it will likely be on Centre Court at Wimbledon on the game's biggest stage.
If so, the scheduling would be no accident. Centre Court is the only one at Wimbledon that allows for players to extend their matches into the night.
- John Isner
- Nicolas Mahut