Wimbledon to introduce final-set tiebreakers in 2019
LONDON — That epic 70-68 fifth set at Wimbledon will never be matched or surpassed, or even challenged.
The All England Club said Friday it will introduce final-set tiebreakers next year, starting when the score reaches 12-12 in the decider.
The grass-court Grand Slam tournament is the second of the four majors to use a final-set tiebreaker to determine a singles match — either the fifth set in a men’s match or the third set for the women. The U.S. Open, however, starts its final-set tiebreakers at 6-6.
At the Australian Open and the French Open, players still have to win by two games in the final set in singles matches.
“Our view was that the time had come to introduce a tie-break method for matches that had not reached their natural conclusion at a reasonable point during the deciding set,” Wimbledon chairman Philip Brook said in a statement.
In a tiebreaker, the first player to get seven points — leading by at least two points — wins the set.
In 2010, John Isner and Nicolas Mahut played the longest match in tennis history at Wimbledon. The match took more than 11 hours and lasted over three days before Isner won 70-68 in the final set.
This year, eventual finalist Kevin Anderson played a pair of long matches late in the tournament. He beat eight-time champion Roger Federer 13-11 in the fifth set in the quarterfinals, and then defeated Isner 26-24 in the fifth in the semifinals.
In the other semifinal match, Novak Djokovic beat Rafael Nadal 10-8 in the fifth set.
Two of those three matches would still be possible.
“While we know the instances of matches extending deep into the final set are rare, we feel that a tie-break at 12-12 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 timeframe,” Brook said.
Other notable long matches include Federer’s victory over Andy Roddick in the 2009 final, winning 16-14 in the fifth set.
Tiebreakers were first introduced at Wimbledon in 1971, but they started at 8-8 instead of 6-6 and were not used in deciding sets.
Before that, all sets had to be won by two games, including Margaret Court’s 14-12, 11-9 win over Billie Jean King in the 1970 final.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.