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You cannot be serious!

John Isner and Nicolas Mahut, who were locked in battle for 11 hours in the Wimbledon first-round last year, will face each again this year after Friday’s draw threw up an extraordinary re-match.

sports Updated: Jun 18, 2011 02:40 IST

John Isner and Nicolas Mahut, who were locked in battle for 11 hours in the Wimbledon first-round last year, will face each again this year after Friday’s draw threw up an extraordinary re-match.

The pair, who slogged out a freakish match that spanned three days on court 18 at the All England Club with Isner eventually triumphing 70-68 in the final set, will meet at the same stage this year when Wimbledon starts on Monday.

The longest ever tennis match last year captured the imagination of the sporting world and left the players physically shattered with Mahut also bearing the mental scars as he battled depression for three months afterwards.

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Before the draw Mahut had begged organisers not to schedule any of his matches on court 18, but little could he have known that there was an even more dramatic twist of fate in store.

The Frenchman had told Reuters this month that he felt “huge sadness to lose a match that I’ll never get a chance to play again”.

While fans might be hoping for a repeat of what was dubbed the “endless match”, the players will settle for something much simpler when they find themselves once again stealing the spotlight from some of the bigger names in the first round.

World no.1 Rafael Nadal opens the defence of his title against American Michael Russell and the Spaniard has been drawn in the opposite half as six-times Wimbledon champion Roger Federer.

Federer, the third seed, starts his campaign against Kazakhstan’s Mikhail Kukushkin, while second seed Novak Djokovic will take on France’s Jeremy Chardy.

TRICKY DRAW
In the women’s singles, champion Serena Williams was drawn in the opposite side of the draw to her sister and five-times champion Venus but in the same half as world number one Caroline Wozniacki and another pre-tournament favourite Maria Sharapova.

Serena, seeded seventh after being sidelined for almost a year because of life-threatening blood clots on a lung as well as a foot injury, takes on France’s Aravane Rezai in the first round of what could be a tricky draw.

Wozniacki, seeking a maiden grand slam title, has a straightforward-looking opening match against world no. 107 Arantxa Parra Santonja but danger lurks in the shape of Sharapova.

The Russian 2004 champion, who reached the French Open semi-finals this month after two years of struggling with a shoulder injury, could meet Wozniacki in the quarterfinals.

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