XtraTime Web Desk: The legacy of having marathon matches in Wimbledon is finally over, as it has finally bowed to pressure from players, coaches and pundits to introduce a final-set tie-break – but it will only kick in when the score reaches 12-12.
The All England Club decided to act after this year’s men’s semi-final between Kevin Anderson and John Isner, which lasted six hours and 36 minutes, including a near three-hour fifth set which Anderson eventually took 26-24. The South African had little energy left for the final, played less than 48 hours later, and was pummelled in straight sets by Novak Djokovic. As Anderson admitted afterwards: “Of course my body didn’t feel great. It’s not going to when you’ve played so much tennis.”
Wimbledon said its decision was informed by talking to players and conducting a “thorough review” of match data from the past two decades. That included the longest match in tennis history in 2010 when Isner defeated Nicolas Mahut 70-68 in the final set of match that took 11 hours over three days to complete.
The AELTC chairman, Philip Brook, defended the decision not to introduce a final-set tie-break at 6-6, which happens in most tournaments, saying: “While we know the instances of matches extending deep into the final set are rare, we feel that a tie-break at 12-12 strikes an equitable balance between allowing players ample opportunity to complete the match to advantage, while also providing certainty that the match will reach a conclusion in an acceptable timeframe.”