Wimbly Day 4 (by PJ): It’s all about Court 18
We KNOW that Wimbledon Day 4 was all about this.
This is probably a sight that will never be seen again, at least not for the next 150,000 years or so, I think. The Match That Would Never End finally ended with a scoreline of 70-68 in the 5th set, to John Isner. A match spanning over THREE days, twice suspended because of light, spanning 11 hours and 5 minutes and 183 games. The final set alone broke the record for the longest professional tennis match ever played, clocking at 8 hours and 11 minutes.
Times like these, I wish that a draw could be call in tennis. After a match like that, how can anyone be a loser? But the cruel fact is, there must be a ‘loser’ and that guy is Nicolas Mahut. After toughing it out for over 11 hours, refusing to give up when facing break points, he finally cracked at the very last break point – out of desperation? Fatigue? Pressure? It’s anyone’s guess.
It was really difficult to watch/read Mahut’s press conference. How can you not feel absolutely gutted for this guy? Similarly, if Isner had lost, most would have felt the same. In fact, I felt that they should just both go on court and play against De Bakker. Between them, on the next day, what stamina and energy that was left would probably still be less than De Bakker’s.
(Isner would then go on to lose in straight sets, serving 0 aces after serving 112 in the match, and committing a barrage of errors, no doubt due to fatigue.)
Of course, there is talk about this match being the greatest match ever. In terms of quality or breathtaking tennis or sublime shots, I respectfully disagree. The last set, at some point, was just each guy desperately holding onto their serve. Neither took chances to break, neither really risked it all to break each other and end the never-ending match. It was ace after ace, and three-to-five point rallies at most, balls finding the net often. So no, it wasn’t spectacular tennis. But in terms of sheer titanium uranium plutonium strength nerves, this is right up there. THAT kind of mental determination shown by both guys in the final set is scary, standing-ovation-worthy, history-making-worthy.
Mahut will probably not get over this for the next decade maybe, but hopefully, one day he will look back and appreciate the fact that he was, and always will be, part of history. Isner may have lost the next round in the tamest, shortest fashion, but he walked away as the victor of this epic match, and that was really something majorly significant.
At the end of the day, these two guys share a piece of sporting/tennis history, a place among the greatest stories of sports. For the years to come, as we talk about the records of Wimbledon, as we talk of Borg, Sampras, Federer and so on, we will all talk about and remember the year 2010 at Wimbledon where two men who slugged it out and just plain refused to give up: John Isner and Nicolas Mahut.
I say the whole of ATP (and WTA as well, what the heck) go with Roger’s suggestion and throw these two a big ‘ole party when Wimbledon is over.
The other story of Day 4 was that Rafa Nadal got taken to 5 sets, by little-known Robin Haase, ranked 151 in the world. Haase had one break point in the first set, and converted that. Rafa set out to make things right again by taking the second set, but some cracking forehands by Haase paid off in the third set, and suddenly, Rafa was two sets to one down, and would have to play five sets to win. And won he did – with a bagel in the fourth set. I didn’t finish watching the match (fell asleep in midst of Haase’s trip to the bakery) so I have no idea how the fifth set went. But it’s probably sufficed to say that Rafa had that little something in the end, and he pulled through. Still, props to Haase for putting up a fight, as gallant as he could give.
We’ve all heard of the Batman Complex, but Rafa may be the first to suffer the Robin Complex.
The other “big news”, and I put that in inverted commas because I sort of couldn’t care less, was the visit of Her Majesty Queenie Lizzie. The only reason I cared a lot was because I get to see Feddy in a suit, and a green/purple striped tie. Heh. So, Queenie dropped by, and had lunch with a bunch of players, caught Mandy’s demolishment of poor Jarkko Nieminen, and went off with a royal wave. And Feddy was interviewed after that, looking dapper in his suit with perfect hair.
Rafa missed her because of his meticulous pre-match routine, and seeing how he was stretched to five sets yesterday, I’d wager he was setting up a praying altar to his water-bottles, thanking them that he didn’t break his routine.
Other notable players that made it through: Bobby Sod avenged his Australian Open defeat to Granola Bar, beating him in straights. Jo-Willy and NKOTB Dolgopolov tried to pull off an Isner-Mahut, but fell just a little bit short, ending fifth set at 10-8 in Jo’s favour.
Now, I don’t follow women’s tennis as closely as Dootsiez, and I don’t really have much to say on the ladies, except the big names are still in – Serena and Vee cruising, Jankovic and Wozniacki still hanging around, as with Shrieky Sharaporva. I’ll probably talk more about WTA once we get to the later rounds, because that will be when I maybe sort of know all of them.
And while I sign this off, Feddykins has just won his third-round match against Arnaud Clément. Comfortably. More on that tomorrow.