Sunday, 4 July 2010
An A to Z of the longest match in tennis history
A – is for the awesome Ace total of 215 (112 from Isner; 103 from Mahut).
B – is for the Backhand down-the-line passing shot that earned Isner victory.
– is for Court 18, the stage on which the near-infinity match played out.
D – is for Deli meat, Andy Roddick’s description of Isner’s post-match toes.
E – is for the Eleven hours and five minutes that will never be forgotten.
F – is for Fishing, the pursuit far from tennis that Isner craved after crashing out in round two.
G – is for the Giant American (6ft 9″) and the Gymnastic Gaul.
H – is for Heroic Holding of serve. Mahut came out and held 68 times in the final set.
I– is for the Inverdale, as in John, who compered the live commemoration ceremony for the BBC at the end of the endurathon.
J – is for John Robert Isner. Key dramatis persona. Aged 25, Florida-based No.3 American behind Roddick and Sam Querrey. Began playing tennis at nine, and played basketball until ninth grade. Grew five inches around age 16. Hobbies include playing poker, golf, basketball and watching ESPN. Wears a size 15 shoe and is coached by Craig Boynton.
K – is for Karen, Isner’s mom, who found the match ‘painful to watch’ and revealed she only exchanged texts with him afterwards about the family dog. “We never talk about a match.”
L – is for Lovely new relationship. Isner and Mahut will always have this special experience to bond them.
– is for the Mesmerising qualities of this Marathon Match. Crowds pressed in and peeped through thetiniest of gaps around the court. John McEnroe and Tracy Austin watched as faces in the crowd. Fellow players talked of nothing else in the dressing room.
N – is for Nicolas Pierre Armand Mahut. Key dramatis persona. Aged 28, from Angers in France. Began playing tennis at five. Heroes include Pete Sampras, Yannick Noah and Michael Jordan. Hobbies listed as: movies (favourite film, ‘Matrix’), music (Oasis and John Mayer); and soccer (supports Paris Saint-Germain). Career highlight: winning Wimbledon junior title in 2000.
O – is for the One hundred and eighty-three games played out across three days.
P – is for Photographers’ favourite: the expressive, athletic Mahut’s status even before the match.
Q – is for Quote from Roger Federer: “It’s unfortunate these guys are going to be a little bit tired tomorrow and the next day and the next week and the next month.”
R – is for the Records broken included length of match, games played and aces served.
S – is for Superhuman stamina. How did they keep going? How come neither cracked?
T – is for Tie-break: Do we need a fifth-set quick decider? The debate begins.
U – is for Umpire Mohammed Lahyani of Sweden who was awarded a Wimbledon tie, pair of cufflinks and a Tipperary in honour of his marathon officiating stint.
V – is for Vantage point. Where did you watch it from? Fellow French player Gael Monfils squeezed into a crowd practically hanging from the roof the Broadcast Facilities.
W – is for Water of coconut, the latest ‘sports drink’ and Isner’s rescue remedy.
X – is for the Xemplary advert for tennis that this first-round match represented.
Y – is for ‘You stay right there, I’ll get the takeaway’. What fellow American Roddick said to Isner at the end of Day 2. He arrived back with three boxes of pizza, all sorts of chicken and mashed potatoes.
Z – is for Zzzzzz. Who didn’t have a long sleep after that?!
by Sarah Edworthy