- Kevin Anderson defeated John Isner in a marathon semifinal on Friday that lasted over six hours.
- After the match, Anderson called for changes to Wimbledon’s rules which don’t allow for a tiebreaker to be played in the fifth set.
- John McEnroe echoed Anderson’s comments, saying change needed to happen this year.
Kevin Anderson is through to the final at Wimbledon after a gruelling match against John Isner.
Anderson and Isner went at it for over six hours due to Wimbledon’s particular rules regarding decisive fifth sets. While some other tournaments are fine with matches coming down to a fifth set tiebreaker, at Wimbledon, a player must break their opponent’s serve and win the set by two games.
At the semifinal on Friday, the result was a match between Anderson and Isner that took six hours and 36 minutes before eventually ending, 7-6(6), 6-7(5), 6-7(9), 6-4, 26-24, in Anderson’s favour.
While Anderson was obviously pleased with the result – the win puts him through to the final at Wimbledon – he was quick to call for a change to the rules to ensure that similar marathon matches don’t occur in the future.
“I really hope that this is a bit of a sign for Grand Slams to change this format,” Anderson said after the match. “For us to be out there for this length of time – I mean not just on us coming back, trying to compete at this sort of stage, going through this – It’s happened to John before, when he has played another five hours. I really hope we can look at it and address this because at the end you don’t even feel that great out there.”
Isner, who has now competed in the two longest matches in Wimbledon history, also called for change.
No better man than John Isner to speak to the no tiebreak rule in the 5th set. Here's what he just said to a group of sports writers: "I can't say enough. I do think the rule needs to change and maybe you guys would agree as well."
— Christopher Clarey (@christophclarey) July 13, 2018
The players weren’t alone in their criticisms of the rule. Tennis legend and current commentator John McEnroe renewed his own calls for a change to Wimbledon’s rules, both to keep the sport entertaining and also out of fairness to the players competing.
“I believe that strongly, for our sport to continue to have as many people as possible watching. You can’t say playing a tie-break would not have been a magnificent end to this game. The fifth set doesn’t have to end six-all, it could be 10-all.
“This will have an effect on Anderson’s performance on Sunday. Rules should be made to benefit the players.”
Even one tennis player’s TV didn’t understand the match going so long:
Even the TV knows this is ridiculous. pic.twitter.com/C2c3u06sLp
— Noah Rubin (@Noahrubin33) July 13, 2018
While the fifth set rule doesn’t often become this great a problem, when it does, things can go south quickly.
Although one might think that such a closely fought match was an enthralling display of athleticism, as Isner and Anderson showed in the fifth set, sometimes the opposite can be true. With both players capable of enormous serves, the two just kept blasting the ball past each other, trading service and sides of the court as the rules dictated, but rarely ever competing in a compelling rally.
Wimbledon might be the most historic major in tennis, but chances are after Friday’s semifinal the calls for change will continue to grow.
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