Frenchman Nicolas Mahut and John Isner, of the U.S.A, were relegated to an outer court in their Wimbledon match-up today, and resumed their match from yesterday with none of the fanfare associated with the Center Court, where the celebrities play.
But five hours later everyone was watching them, as this first-round match played host to the longest game in the history of grand-slam tennis. The spectacle sprang from a Wimbledon tradition that forbids a tiebreak in the fifth set, and though the match was suspended when it became too dark to see the ball, it’s not even finished yet.
At last count Isner and Mahut had been playing for ten hours and were tied at 59 games each in the fifth set. “Maybe they should agree on playing a tiebreak,” suggested Novak Djokovic, who was keeping one eye on the game in the locker room. Roger Federer delayed a press conference to watch the game.
Our sympathies were with the umpire, who went the whole game without a bathroom break.