Isner, Mahut gear up for second War on grass | sports | Hindustan Times
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Isner, Mahut gear up for second War on grass

sports Updated: Jun 20, 2011 23:35 IST

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 an 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.

On Tuesday, 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".

"I'm very happy to come back to the U.K. and play in front of the English fans and at the same time I'm a little bit worried about being able to meet the expectations. It's a question of not letting people down," Frenchman Mahut, who lost last year's epic match said in an interview in the days running up to the grasscourt grand slam.

American Isner summed up the sentiments by saying: "It's weird and it's cruel."

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


That would be the worst-case scenario for Mahut, who plunged into depression for three months after losing the 183-game match 6-4, 3-6, 6-7,

7-6, 70-68. "I hope organisers will try and avoid that situation (of playing again on Court 18). It will be impossible for me not to think about (last year's) match,” he said.

The match was not only the longest ever played but broke the records for the longest set, the most games in a set (138), most games in a match (183), most aces in a match by one player (Isner 113) and total aces (216).