21 Jun 2011

Isner and Mahut set for another Wimbleson showdown

7:38 am on 21 June 2011

It takes just 10 seconds to read the 33 words printed on a new, oval plaque mounted outside Wimbledon's Court 18 to commemorate the longest ever tennis match, which took place at the All England Club a year ago.

It is a typically understated acknowledgement by Wimbledon organisers to the feat achieved by John Isner and Nicolas Mahut - but then no amount of words could sum up an act of extraordinary human endurance that spanned three days and lasted 11 hours and five minutes over five sets.

Tonight those two same gladiators will return to the All England Club for a re-match after they were shocked to be drawn together for a first-round clash that is being dubbed "Wimbledon War II".

"Freakish", "astonishing", "unbelievable", "mind-boggling", "bizarre" are just some of the words competitors used when Isner and Mahut were drawn together again for this year's championships - the same words that were used to describe their first-round encounter last June that hypnotised a global audience of billions.

Going into tonight's encounter, American Isner summed up the sentiments of the two players best by saying: "It's weird and it's cruel."

At the time of the draw last Saturday Wimbledon referee Andrew Jarrett twisted the knife further by suggesting: "There is every possibility we could schedule it for Court 18 again."