Thursday, June 24, 2010

What a match!!

My favorite time of year has begun! It's Wimbledon season and the world takes a collective sigh of relief from the stresses of jobs, families, bills and the like and turns its head to the All England Club to watch the world's best compete on tennis' most prestigious stage. This was what I dreamed about when I was a kid and pictured myself playing professional tennis. It's not just the stunning Centre Court, now equipped with a retractable roof, or the crisp English accents coming from the chair umpire - "quiet please" - or beautiful green grass courts that play like no other surface, or the electricity in the air that seems to draw out previously untested players and propel them through to the quarters, semis and even the finals. It's not just the luscious thought of strawberries and cream for Breakfast at Wimbledon. It's all of those things and so much more. Wimbledon is a time-honored tradition dating back to 1877. It's like no other tournament. Even the dress code of predominately white attire sets it apart from the other grand slams.

Wimbledon always provides for some exciting experiences. Last year, Roger Federer was crowned king of all tennis players when he won the coveted title for the sixth time and gained his 15th grand slam title, breaking Pete Sampras' record. America sweetheart, Melanie Oudin made an impressive run to the fourth round, defeating former number one Jelena Jankovic along the way and setting her up for her even more impressive run at the US Open later in the year. But this year's craziness has already begun and has smashed countless records along the way!

Enter American John Isner and Frenchman Nicolas Mahut for their 1st round match. Starting on Tuesday, Isner and Mahut entered court 18 and began what was to be the longest match in tennis history. In fact, it destroyed the previous record by over four and a half hours! The two began their match and got to 6-4, 3-6, 6-7, 7-6. They entered their fifth set, which according to Wimbledon tradition, cannot end in a tiebreak, which means that the two would duel it out until someone wins by two games. Then began the craziness!

The final set alone lasted 8 hours and 11 minutes! Add this to the previous 2 hours and 54 minutes and you get the grand total for the match: 11 hours and 5 minutes. The match lasted over three days because they kept having to call the match for darkness. These two men, being called gladiators, heroes, incredible athletes and the like, dueled it out to a final set score of 70-68! This is an UNREAL score! Consider that last year's final with Roger Federer and Andy Roddick had a fifth set score of 16-14 and this was heralded as epic! How do you even label this more recent showdown? These men played 980 points! They each held serve for 169 games before Isner was able to convert a rare match point! Isner deliverd 112 aces, many still being clocked at 135mph near the end, and Mahut putting up an impressive 103 aces on his own.

I was privileged to watch a portion of this match. This was top-notch tennis, each man going for his shots and giving all he had. Mahut bounced around the court, sprinted up the steps after a bathroom break and looked fresh throughout the match. Isner, 6'9" and 250 lbs. lumbered around the court, deliberately taking his time and pulling himself up by the railing after the break. But put a ball in his hand and he looked unstoppable. It was sad to see this match come to an end, but someone had to win, right? It was a proud day, or days for tennis and I'm glad I got to see part of history! Can't wait to see what else happens next...wouldn't it be awesome if Isner made a run for the title? It couldn't happen anywhere but Wimbledon!

Want to read more and see some video? Follow this link: Wimbledon

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