Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Tennis Marathon

Have you seen any of the John Isner v Nicolas Mahut 1st round match at Wimbledon? You may have, since it has gone for 9 hours 58 minutes over 2 days and it is not over! I watched the PTI show today and co-host Mike Wilbon claimed this match was "boring" and 4 hours of it were "worthless". I couldn't disagree with his assessment more!

This is one extraordinary match, and it continues tomorrow. I never thought in my lifetime I would see a score as we see tonight: 6-4 3-6 7-6 6-7 59-59. It broke all the open-era major championship records and all the pre-Open era records. It was 2 players with a remarkable will to compete, succeed and win. I never had heard of Nicolas Mahut before this match (indeed he is ranked 145th in the world) and I have always thought John Isner was soft. In a couple of previous 5 set matches I watched him play he just wilted and he was softer than melted butter. However today he made it all up and then some.

There are just amazing statistics from this match that are just mind-boggling. 2 minutes short of 10 hours playing, 168 games, 98 aces to 94, a 7 hour fifth set! A fifth set that is longer than any previous MATCH in tennis history! I watched it all (except for the hour I was at the dentist). I left convinced that it would be over before I returned home only to come back stunned it was still going tied at 41 games apiece. There are critics out there (like Mike Wilbon) who say these battles are boring. What rubbish! This was simply epic, tennis theater, drama at its best.

Think about it, these 2 players have played a 118 game final set without dropping their serve once. In fact Isner has had 4 match points so far which of course he has not converted. Mahut has had 0 break point chances. 2 gladiators who served their way out of trouble. Just remarkable. I played tennis when I was younger and I was exhausted after 3 hours on court, but 10? This is a tennis marathon equivalent which has etched it part in sports history and folklore.

John Isner summed it up best: "We will not see a match like this ever again". John, you are probably right. There are simply numbers in sports that few have tried to match and haven't come close. You know them: 56, .406, 27, 17, etc. Depending on when this match ends tomorrow no one for the next 50 years will touch 59-59 in a set.

2 great sportsmen, 2 tennis warriors. Today we watched sports history. And that doesn't come around very often. You must savior it when it comes. You must appreciate history when it is presented to you. You can never forget, nor you will forget. What will happen tomorrow? Only history knows.

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