Wimbledon is all set to introduce final-set tiebreakers next year, starting when the score reaches 12-12 in the decider, said The All England Club said on Friday. This move comes after the epic final set between Kevin Anderson and John Isner this year, which lasted for almost three hours.
Nevertheless, the South African won the final set of the semi-final clash 26-24. But was made to toil hard, which made the AELC members rethink of a slight tweak to the format.
The Wimbledon chairman Philip Brook said 'the time had come to introduce a tie-break method' at a 'reasonable point during the deciding set'. The new rules states that the player or team first to reach seven points with an advantage of two or more points will be declared the winner.
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.
In 2010, John Isner was involved in 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.
According to Wimbledon CEO Richard Lewis, many players were in favor of the change. Interestingly, John Isner has also backed the rule and has jokingly called for the rule to be changed to his name.
Speaking to BBC Radio One, Isner said: "Maybe Wimbledon acting like this could drive them to do it as well. "They could call it the Isner rule."
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 — the second-longest match in the history of a tournament that began in 1877. In the other semifinal match, Novak Djokovic beat Rafael Nadal 10-8 in the fifth set.
“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,” said AELC chairman Phillip Brook said in a statement.