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Marathon man Isner backs Wimbledon rule-change

John Isner (Getty Images)
John Isner (Getty Images)

London - John Isner has backed the change to Wimbledon's rules which will see the final set decided by a tie-break when the game score reached 12-12.

The 33-year-old American was involved in the longest match in professional tennis history when he eventually overcame Nicolas Mahut 70-68 in the final set of an 11-hour clash during the 2010 Championships.

"I've been on record saying 12-all is good and my views haven't changed," Isner, also involved in the second-longest Grand Slam match in this year's Wimbledon semi-final when he lost the deciding set 26-24 to Kevin Anderson, told BBC Radio Five's Sportsweek programme on Sunday.

"Wimbledon this year was definitely the impetus for it with the schedule messing up the men's semis and women's final.

"It is bucking tradition but I think a lot of people believe that is not a bad thing."

Traditionally, singles matches in Grand Slam tennis tournaments - the best of five sets for men, three for women - were won when a player had six games to their credit but also led their opponent by at least two clear games - 6-4 or 8-6 for example.

In 1969, the then 41-year-old Pancho Gonzales beat Charlie Pasarell 22-24, 1-6, 16-14, 6-3, 11-9 in a singles match at Wimbledon.

Tie-breaks were first introduced at Wimbledon in the early 1970s and in 1979 officials settled on the current system where they would decide a set once it had reached six games all, except in the final set, which would still be played to advantage - winning by two clear games.

The US Open already has a fifth set tie-breaker in place for singles matches and Isner believes Wimbledon's move to amend its rules may encourage the Australian and French Opens - tennis's other Grand Slam events - to follow suit.

"Maybe Wimbledon acting like this could drive them to do it as well," he said. "They could call it the Isner rule."

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