It’s not often that a first-round match at a Major Championship draws the attention of the sports world. Heck, it’s not often that a first-round match draws the attention of the tennis world. But last year John Isner and Nicolas Mahut did just that. And now they’re set to do it all over again.
Mahut and Isner played the longest match in tennis history during the first round of Wimbledon last year. Isner eventually won 6-4, 3-6, 6-7 (7), 7-6 (3), 70-68 in a match that lasted 11 hours and five minutes and stretched over three days. Their improbable match took the world by storm, causing a Twitter and blogosphere explosion of tennis awareness. It was incredible to watch.
At Friday’s random draw for this year’s tournament, Isner and Mahut ended up being paired up yet again in the first round. A gasp fell over the crowd in attendance when the draw was revealed, then those in attendance broke into laughter. Since, yeah, it’s pretty funny.
The chances that Isner and Mahut would have been paired together again were 0.7 percent, or about 7 in 1,000.
Isner seemed excited:
“It’s going to be pretty nuts. I couldn’t believe it. I joked with him earlier in the week, last week, and said, ‘Watch us play each other.’ And he said, ‘No, there’s no way. That’s not even funny.’”
Mahut and Isner have become close friends since their match a year ago and were even planning to practice against each other Saturday but have since canceled those plans. Isner said they would likely see each other after the match.
“We might go to dinner (afterward). We’re really good friends now, but obviously we both want to win. But we’re going to enjoy it and laugh at the same time.”
While we’re not expecting this year’s match to live up to last year’s, we’ll still be watching.
The rest of the tennis world will apparently be watching too. Twitter lit up right after the announcement.
Fourth-seeded Andy Murray said:
“Isner vs mahut drawing each other in the first round after last year is the most amazing thing I’ve seen in tennis! Centre court anyone?!”
U.S. Davis Cup captain Patrick McEnroe channeled his brother John with this tweet:
“you cannot be serious!!!”