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Jonathan Overend's Wimbledon diary

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Jonathan Overend | 20:36 UK time, Thursday, 24 June 2010

I never liked being tall. I always thought that 6 ft 4 ins was just a little abnormal.

My Dad assured me it would be useful, particularly on the North Bank at Highbury, and as I craned my neck on the balcony above Court 18 I was thankful again for those extra inches.

John Isner and Nicolas Mahut were down there somewhere - down there, through the throng, between the man with the camera and the lady on tiptoes - pushing and playing to extremities in the longest match in tennis history.

When I queued up as a teenager to come to Wimbledon, Court 18 (then called Court 14) was always the first place I sprinted for. Unreserved seating, good view, decent matches.

There were no seats available for this one - nobody dared leave even for a toilet break - and the view was restricted to say the least.

But it was great fun, especially as the records started to tumble on the second day, and the presentation at the end was a nice touch by the All England Club.

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It beat the previous longest match in tennis history by four and a half hours, both men hit more than 100 aces and the final set included 138 games. Three records which will surely never be broken.

On the in-play betting markets, the favouritism changed 2,422 times over the course of the three days. Hilarious.

Massive respect to Isner and Mahut, two excellent professionals, who inadvertently, on a small patch of lawn in London, became worldwide ambassadors for the sport of tennis as their extraordinary adventure was beamed to millions.

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Schoolboy humour is surely frowned upon in the Royal Box.

As Andy Murray bowed to the Queen with spectacular formality, before his impressive victory over Jarko Nieminen on Centre Court, committee member Tim Henman was seen smirking and chuckling in the second row, directly behind Her Majesty.

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Henman, always up for a laugh, contrary to his bland image, was also in good form during the Isner/Mahut match as he watched with John McEnroe. "Don't think much of Isner's body language," he joked on the balcony at 52-52. "Come on, step it up!"

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Legendary coach Nick Bolletieri, who had a meeting with the Lawn Tennis Association on Wednesday to discuss potential projects, was recently in Delhi helping to up-skill Indian tennis coaches.

The boot-camp mentality of his Florida academy is infamous and this appears to stretch beyond the court to embrace household chores. "Agassi and Courier would wash my car and do my weeding," he said during an entertaining 5 live appearance.

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The LTA are still scratching their heads wondering how this website got hold of a study called "British High Performance Tennis Mission 2012" which included, among ranking targets for the next three years, the pessimistic prediction that no other man will join Andy Murray in the world's top 100 for at least two years.

The document has the sub-title: "How to maximise the potential of who is good now" and one of five key objectives is listed as "inter-disciplinary planning".

Britain endured its worst collection of first round results in Wimbledon history.

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The 2006 Wimbledon champion Amelie Mauresmo, who announced her retirement at the end of last year, is taking on a new challenge.

The Frenchwoman, who helped compatriot Michael Llodra during a successful grass court season, plans to run the New York marathon in November and wants to crack four hours.

Meanwhile the former British number one Lucie Ahl is considering running from Land's End to John O'Groats - the equivalent of two marathons a day for 15 days. Perhaps she will ask John Isner to accompany her.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    On the in-play betting markets, the favouritism changed 2,422 times over the course of the three days. Hilarious.
    ____________

    Lol
    Well now you can be thankfull for the height advantage LoL. Massive respect, don't know how Mahut will look back on his award though.

    If Nick gets something going with the LTA great, then we will have mentally strong players. What happend to you and Mr Draper having a word?

  • Comment number 2.

    'Legendary coach Nick Bolletieri, who had a meeting with the Lawn Tennis Association on Wednesday to discuss potential projects, was recently in Delhi helping to up-skill Indian tennis coaches.'

    Perhaps upskilling BRITISH coaches is now also in order??

  • Comment number 3.

    I should think that Mahut will probably - once the dust has all settled, and hopefully his ranking hasn't suffered too much for a 1st round loss - be appreciative that he's gone to Wimbledon and won something, even if it's only a 'token' award for breaking most of the single-match tennis records out there!

    Also, does anyone else agree with me that Isner could actually still go some distance in the Championship? Provided he doesn't end up in any more 5-setters, his serve is now a finely honed bullet, he's definitely used to the surface and the crowd; maybe the practice he's had out on 18 over the past few days is a blessing rather than a curse?

  • Comment number 4.

    Upskill?

  • Comment number 5.

    Jonathan, is it really "pessimistic" to forecast that no British male player will make the top 100 in the next 2 years? It sounds more like a statement of the obvious to me.

  • Comment number 6.

    Just seen this.....

    "Nick Bolletieri to replace Roger Draper"

    http://www.jester.co.uk/youwish/2010/06/inyourdreams.html

  • Comment number 7.

    The Isner - Mahut match was boring tennis to watch...fascinating ONLY due to it's length. Big serves - No returns. Toss out the # games played, the # of aces, etc..the most impressive stat is that Mahut HAD to hold serve 64 times in a row just to stay in the match.

  • Comment number 8.

    The Isner - Mahut match was boring tennis to watch...fascinating ONLY due to it's length.
    _________________

    Right so, your admitting that you don't like grass court tennis which is all about the serve and short points

  • Comment number 9.

    dssssi......we are all amazed, since you thought it was such a "boring" match to watch, that you managed to fight off drowsiness and sleep for so long in front of the TV (or the court if you were there) whilst the game continued for three days !!!

    Well done, maybe you should be in the record books too.

  • Comment number 10.

    Cmon guys - admit it.

    Isner-Mahut was actually pretty boring tennis.

    It was like watching two drunk guys slug away at each other in a parking lot, until they both collapsed.

    That was on Mahut's serve. On Isner's, it was like watching someone with no control over his legs practise serving for seven hours.

  • Comment number 11.

    G-K

    Tennis played at walking pace but fascinating nevertheless.

  • Comment number 12.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

 

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