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.
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.
“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.
Let’s be accurate. It should be known as the Anti-Isner rule. It’s an avoidance not a celebration. https://t.co/2QFaqFtIv8
— Lou Talu (@loutalu) October 21, 2018
if anything it’s the anti-isner rule https://t.co/CVyDAWo5sQ
— ☆ joy | 💔🌩 (@peakrafa) October 21, 2018
The “Isner Rule.” So he knows he’s the biggest offender. This man. pic.twitter.com/dwNYqhKTCn
— Rhiannon❄️ (@Coeur_de_Creme) October 21, 2018
The Isner Rule should be him never being allowed on a tennis court. https://t.co/0xQIhgwDt7
— ton skeel (@naughtyT) October 21, 2018
If John Isner were able to break anyone’s serve, this rule wouldn’t have been implemented https://t.co/q7Cxj4nW7C
— Brave Old Army Blog (@BraveOlArmyBlog) October 21, 2018
In the last 5 years at Wimbledon, out of 635 matches, 5 have gone beyond 12-12. That's 0.79% of all matches. Why has this become such an issue when the stats say it isn't?
— Paul Timmons (@Arsenal9Fan) October 19, 2018
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.”