Wimbledon | Calls to introduce final set tie breaker grow louder after marathon semi-final

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Wimbledon | Calls to introduce final set tie breaker grow louder after marathon semi-final

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SportsCafe Desk


After Kevin Anderson and John Isner’s marathon semi-final that went on for six hours and 36 minutes, players have asked for the need of tie-breaker in the fifth set after 12-all. Isner, who lost the match, insisted that the change is long overdue and the rules of the Grand Slam must be changed.

Kevin Anderson needed six hours and 36 minutes to see off John Isner - the American regarded as the sport's marathon man - 7-6 (8-6) 6-7 (5-7) 6-7 (9-11) 6-4 26-24 in a truly epic encounter featuring 102 aces, 96 service games but just six breaks.

“As an ex-athlete seeing these guys going for it, you have the utmost respect. But this is absurd,” declared seven-times Grand Slam champion John McEnroe while commentating as quoted by Hindustan Times.

The match was the second-longest in professional tennis history, behind only Isner's record 11-hour, five-minute first-round Wimbledon triumph over Frenchman Nicolas Mahut in 2010.

“It just seems cruel and unusual punishment for these guys. I hope this magnificent effort by these two experienced and very fit professionals allows the powers that be to make a change,” said McEnroe.

The US Open is the only Grand Slam to use tiebreakers in the fifth set, with the Australian Open and French Open, like Wimbledon, both playing advantage sets. In his last two matches alone, Anderson has been on court for almost 11 hours. He beat defending champion Roger Federer 13-11 in the fifth set of the quarter-finals before Friday’s contest drained the life out of him.

“It’s pretty tough in the format that we have right now. My feet are sore, they’re swollen. The legs are pretty jelly-like,” said the 32-year-old who reached his second major final after finishing runner-up to Rafael Nadal at last year’s U.S. Open. Isner, who has come off second best in five-set marathons for the fourth successive year at Wimbledon, stated that things need to change in Wimbledon.

“If one person can’t finish the other off before 12-all, then do a tiebreaker there,” said the American who was beaten 12-10 in the fifth set by Marin Cilic in 2015 and 19-17 by Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in 2016. “I think it’s long overdue. I can’t say it enough, the rule needs to change.”

That ‘endless match’ prompted officials to erect a plaque on Court 18 to commemorate the feats of the two players. Anderson added that it was not just the players who were losing out but fans, who had paid 170 pounds ($225) to see two semi-finals, were also being short-changed.

“Most of the crowd would have preferred to see a fifth-set tiebreaker too. They’ve paid to see two matches and they came pretty close to only seeing one match,” said the South African. “It gets kind of ridiculous at some point in time when it’s over 20-all. The crowd... they’re pretty antsy for us to get off the court. They’ve been watching us for over six hours.”

The knock on effect also meant Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic were kept waiting till past 8 pm local time to start their semi-final and would have to return on Saturday to finish the match because they ran out of time before the 11 pm curfew. Anderson's prize for his bittersweet victory would be a date on Sunday with either world No.1 Rafael Nadal or fellow Grand Slam giant Novak Djokovic.

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