x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Encore of Longest Match: John Isner draws Nicolas Mahut in first round at Wimbledon

John Isner took a record 11 hours and five minutes to beat close friend Nicolas Mahut at the Wimbledon last year. They will play each other at the grand slam tournament again.

The longest-match rematch is coming to Wimbledon next week after John Isner and Nicolas Mahut were drawn yesterday to face each other in the first round.

Last year, the pair played the longest match in tennis history at the All England Club, with Isner winning 6-4, 3-6, 6-7, 7-6, 70-68 in a first-round match that lasted 11 hours, five minutes and stretched over three days.

A gasp followed yesterday's announcement, but laughter soon ensued.

"It's going to be pretty nuts," Isner said. "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'."

The two players, who have become good friends since their historic encounter a year ago, were due to hit with each other today but cancelled those plans as soon as they found out the rematch was on. "We might do dinner [afterward]," Isner said.

The match-up was the talk of Twitter as soon as it was announced. "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?!" Andy Murray, the fourth seed, said.

The match last year was played on Court 18, and a new plaque this year commemorates the epic contest.

This year's contest is scheduled to take place - or begin, at least - on Tuesday. Their first-round match last year was held over twice because of darkness, and with rain forecast for the first week of Wimbledon they may be delayed again.

In other news, Rafael Nadal, the defending champion, was drawn in the opposite half from Roger Federer, the six-time champion, meaning there is a chance of a fourth Wimbledon final between the two. Novak Djokovic is the second seed and could face Federer in the semi-finals.

In the women's draw, seventh-seeded Serena Williams and her big sister, Venus, are in opposite halves, setting up the possibility for a fifth sibling final at the All England Club. The sisters have won nine of the past 11 Wimbledon finals. Serena, who has won four, is 3-1 against five-time champion Venus in the final.