A few months after the final set of the Wimbledon semi-final between Kevin Anderson and John Isner lasted nearly three hours, the All England Lawn Tennis Club have decided to introduce final set tie-breakers.
Anderson had won that semi-final, but not between he played out 50 games in the final set and was left exhausted for his final against Novak Djokovic, a match he lost in straight sets.
Interestingly, Anderson had used up nearly eight hours of on-play tennis in beating Gael Monfils and Roger Federer in the tournament before this encounter against Isner that went on for six and a half hours.
The South African finalist later said it was time for the prestigious Wimbledon to re-think their strategy around final set tie-breakers. And the AELTC has now come out with a solution that should work for both sides of the coin – there will be a tie-breaker but only after the two players have played out 24 games.
This tie-breaker will be on the same lines as the other ones; i.e. first player to reach seven points with a difference of two to win the match.
Interestingly Isner had earlier been involved in the longest match at Wimbledon too, when he took on and beat Nicolas Mahut 70-68 in a first round match at the 2010 edition.
AELTC chairman Philip Brook explained that while the number of matches that go deep into the fifth set are not very common, it also made sense to have a tie-break at 12-12 because it “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 time frame.”
The decision was reached after analysing data from the previous 20 seasons at Wimbledon and in conjunction with the other stakeholders like the players and officials.