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Finally, a winner at Wimbledon

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McClatchy Tribune
June 25, 2010
— John Isner won the longest match in tennis history at Wimbledon on Thursday, which reduced Rafael Nadal’s five-set win to a footnote and even dwarfed Andy Murray’s success in front of Queen Elizabeth II.

Isner and French qualifier Nicolas Mahut played a 186-game epic across three days for 11 hours and 5 minutes on court 18 until the American finally won, 6-4, 3-6, 6-7 (7-9),


7-6 (7-3), 70-68.


The final set alone lasted 8 hours, 11 minutes, far longer than the previously longest match (6:33) as all the tennis records were smashed and the new marks probably will stand forever. Isner served 112 aces while Mahut fired 103.


So special was the moment that the All England Club organized a gift presentation from former champion Ann Jones and Tim Henman for both players—and long-suffering Swed-ish chair umpire Mohammed Lahyani, who also sat through the entire ordeal.


“I was tired,” deadpanned Isner. “But when you come out and play a match like this in this atmosphere you don’t feel tired—even though that’s exactly what we both were.


“The crowd was fantastic. What more can I say, the guy’s a warrior,” Isner said of Mahut. “It’s too bad someone had to lose.


“But I’m proud to share the day with Nicolas, it was an absolute honor. Maybe down the road we’ll meet again—but it won’t go 70-68.”


He and Mahut and Lahyani were posed in front of the historic scoreboard on court 18 to record the impossible result for history.


“At this moment, it’s really painful,” said Mahut, who won a qualifying match 24-22 last week. “But I was as amazing to play today.


Mahut later returned to the same court for a doubles match while Nadal labored on Center Court to a five-set win at Wimbledon for the fifth time in his career, 5-7, 6-2, 3-6, 6-0, 6-3 over dangerous Dutchman Robin Haase.


The Spaniard who won the 2008 title followed top seed Roger Federer, who went the match distance in a first-round escape.


Nadal needed to maintain focus against the No. 151 Hasse, who missed 10 months in 2009 after knee surgery but is tipped as a fresh threat in the game. Nadal won despite 27 aces from his opponent and improved to 35-8 on grass.


“I’m fine, I’m in third round, I passed a good test today,” said Nadal. “Before the match I knew he would be dangerous. I played a good match.


“I had to be mentally strong, playing him is a dangerous player. I’m very happy to win as I was close to losing.”


Earlier, Murray turned in a right royal performance as he beat Finn Jarkko Nieminen, 6-3, 6-4, 6-2, in front of the queen who made her first visit to Wimbledon in 33 years.


“It’s probably a once in a lifetime opportunity for all of us,” said the Scottish fourth seed. “The players who were there to meet her this morning, it was a big deal for everybody.”


The bemused Nieminen, a proud Finn from one of northern Europe’s strongest democracies, played along with the ancient pomp and ceremony demanded under British royal protocol.


Both players looked only slightly out of their element as they dropped their bulging tennis bags and bowed—somewhat stiffly—to the Centre Court Royal Box before and after the match which sent Murray safely into the third round.


Both men were taken up to All England Club headquarters to meet the Queen as she made her departure after a three-and-a-half hour visit, her first to the tennis since 1977.


Swedish sixth seed Robin Soderling moved easily past Marcel Granollers, 7-5, 6-1,


6-4, while Spain’s ninth seed David Ferrer defeated Florent Serra, 6-4, 7-5, 6-7 (6-8), 6-3.


Murray will next face Frenchman Gilles Simon, who advanced in a walkover against injured opponent Illya Marchenko.


Two compatriots joined Simon in the third round as Julien Benneteau beat Andreas Beck, 3-6, 6-2, 4-6, 7-6 (7-5), 6-3, and Jeremy Chardy defeated Lukas Lacko, 6-3,


7-6 (7-4), 4-6, 6-7 (5-7), 8-6.


Tenth-seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga also went through over Alexandr Dolgopolov,


6-4, 6-4, 6-7 (5-7), 5-7, 10-8.


In women’s play, seeds advanced with ease, led by No. 3 Caroline Wozniacki, who defeated Kai-Chen Chang 6-4,


6-3.


Polish No. 7 Agnieszka Radwanska beat Alberta Brianti, 6-2, 6-0, while China’s number nine Li Na beat Kurumi Nara of Japan, 6-2, 6-4.


And 2004 champion Maria Sharapova, seeded 16th, hammered Ioana Raluca Olaru of Romania, 6-1, 6-4.



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