'Anti-Isner rule': Marathon man slammed over Wimbledon move

Tennis fans have slammed marathon man John Isner following Wimbledon’s groundbreaking decision to introduce tiebreaks at 12-12 in the final set.

The American became something of a cult hero when he defeated France’s Nicolas Mahut 70-68 in the fifth set in 2010.

It was a record-setting duel lasting 11 hours and five minutes over three days of play, the last set alone (eight hours and 11 minutes) longer than the previous longest match in history.

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Isner, now 33, was then involved in the second-longest Wimbledon match ever in this year’s semi-finals, when South Africa’s Kevin Anderson took the fifth set 26-24 in a battle lasting six hours and 36 minutes.

That led to further calls to bring in sudden-death tiebreaks and Wimbledon organisers announced this week that next year’s championships would introduce the rule.

“I have said all along 12-all is good,” Isner told the BBC.

John Isner and Nicolas Mahut posed with the scoreboard after their 70-68 epic – but one man was decidedly less happy than the other. Pic: Getty

“That is sensible. You’re getting people who like the advantage and people who like tiebreaks.

“It is bucking tradition but a lot of people believe that is not a bad thing.”

The world No.10 even joked that the new rule should be named after him.

“The next match that gets to that, they should just say we will now play the ‘Isner rule’,” he said.

“I don’t think they are going to do that, but I think I’ve been a big driving force for it.”

Those comments backfired among tennis fans, who criticised the 208-centimetre Isner for being the rare player who is unable to finish his opponents.

Tennis fans aren’t happy with John Isner. Pic: Twitter

Wimbledon has followed in the footsteps of the US Open, which has employed tiebreaks at 6-6 in deciding sets.

Organisers say the 12-all compromise maintains tradition and allows dramatic deciding sets to evolve.

The Australian and French Opens do not have final-set breakers.

“It may be that Wimbledon acting like this could drive them to do it as well,” Isner said.

“There is drama enough in a tiebreaker. You could argue there is more drama in that.”

with Reuters