Now, I’m old enough to remember tennis before the Williams sisters began to dominate the women’s game. I’m old enough to remember Andre Agassi’s shockingly long hair and cycle shorts (shocking for tennis anyway). Hell, I’m even old enough to remember John McEnroe’s on-court tantrums.
But, in all my years of watching Wimbledon, I can’t remember anything like the epic first round match between America’s John Isner and the Frenchman Nicolas Mahut, which goes into its third day this afternoon. This seemingly never-ending match has been absolutely compelling viewing, and is breaking tennis records left, right and centre.
– Longest match in tennis history at 10 hours (the previous longest was 6 hours 33 minutes in the 2004 French Open)
– Most games at 163 (beating the record of 112 that has stood since Wimbledon 1969), with 118 of those in the fifth set so far.
– Longest final set at 7 hours 6 minutes, as of last night (this is already longer than the previous longest MATCH in its entirety!)
– Most aces served in one match and most aces served by one player (98 by Isner, closely followed by Mahut on 94).
– Both players have won only a single break point each, out of 877 total points played so far.
– Each player has burned approximately 6,900 calories so far (over three times the recommended calorie intake per day)
– Isner and Mahut even managed to break the scoreboard on court 18 and the Wimbledon website – the score was 59-59 and the board couldn’t cope with such unheard-of numbers (incidentally, I rather liked Charlie Brooker’s suggestion on Twitter that if they hit 60-all they should each take a shot of tequila before each serve!).
– The players must be exhausted, but it’s the BBC commentator Ronald McIntosh I really feel for. This epic match on court 18 was supposed to be a nice gentle one to ease McIntosh into his first ever TV commentary… but nobody could have predicted these events! Talk about a baptism of fire…
There are bound to be more unbelievable stats before the match finally ends – stay tuned for more slightly gobsmacking updates!
UPDATE: 16.51 – The match has finally ended! The eventual winner was John Isner, who won the final set 70-68 after a match that lasted eleven hours and five minutes and involved each player serving more than 100 aces. The All-England Club have given a special award to both players and to the umpire Mohamed Lahyani, in recognition of this remarkable match – and quite right too…
Oh Thierry Henry, what did you have to go and do that for? You, of all people. Despite being a life-long Spurs supporter, I have always been a great fan of yours; you were one of those rare and special footballers it was always such a pleasure to watch, no matter which team you played for. One of those players who, despite all the greed and arrogance in modern football, made me remember why I fell in love with the Beautiful Game in the first place.
But then, in a crucial World Cup qualifier against the Republic of Ireland last week, you did a Maradona, and the poor old Republic unfairly went crashing out after neither referee nor linesmen spotted your blatant handball. And blatant it was too. Quite ridiculously so. You even compounded the offence with your comments after the game: “It was necessary to exploit what was exploitable”, you said, as if that somehow justified what was, without question, cheating. How could you?
However, Henry’s out-of-character double handball is not the first instance of blatant cheating in sport this year. In some cases, this cheating has just been childishly sad, as with the deliberate F1 crashes, while in others it has veered towards out-and-out fraud, as with the outrageous and notorious Harlequins ‘Bloodgate’ incident (and what with Quins being the rugby union side I support, this scandal made me particularly angry), and the recent Champions League match fixing arrests.
It is difficult to know how to remedy such examples of dishonesty, because if sportsmen and women – as with pretty much anyone else in any walk of life, unfortunately – think that there is the slightest possibility they might get away with it, they’ll try to do just that.
Don’t be daft….
Back in August, when the football season was still fresh and new and full of opportunity for your club (or something), I made a series of predictions about how the season would pan out. Problem is, I’m not the world’s greatest prognosticator, as you are about to see. I’m not Mystic Meg. In fact, I’m so bad at predictions that I’d make a drink-addled, third-rate, end-of-the pier crystal ball reader look as if she genuinely had the kind of second sight that laughs in the face of ‘tall, dark strangers’ and tweaks the noses of ‘mysterious admirers’, all the time while knowing where the bodies are buried. In a footballing sense, of course.
The truth of the matter is that I’m just a grumpy, cynically romantic, ever hopeful football fan – hopeful of one day actually getting it right, that is…
So let’s examine the evidence for my predictive incompetence, shall we?
UPDATE: THERE WILL NOW BE HIGHLIGHTS OF UKRAINE V ENGLAND ON BBC1 TONIGHT (SATURDAY 10TH OCTOBER) – TUNE IN TO MATCH OF THE DAY AT 10.15PM.
An Occasional Series of Short(ish) Rants and Ramblings about the Beautiful Game
Honestly. Who’d be an England fan? I ask (yet again) in all seriousness, as the latest installment in the long-running soap opera of supporting the national team rolls into town again late tomorrow afternoon. Or rather it doesn’t. Because, unless you are one of the (approximately) one million England fans who a) is prepared to actually fork out up to fifteen quid to watch the game on a tiny monitor, and b) has a fast enough internet connection, or c) is mad enough to pay the ticket prices demanded by the ‘selected’ Odeon cinemas who are showing the game, you won’t be watching the Ukraine v England World Cup qualifying match tomorrow; not even in the pub, which fact alone is enough to make me weep into my pint – if I wasn’t actually drinking a cup of tea instead.
For a change, this isn’t Sky depriving your average England fan of her fix of qualifying matches and friendlies, despite the oft-bemoaned fact that their sports packages (plus the equipment, plus installation…) are financially out reach for many. Tempting as it may be (and tempting as it always is), this is not an anti-Murdoch rant – for a change, ol’Rupey-baby isn’t responsible for this particular balls-up.