Wimbledon Draw 2011: Preliminary Brackets Set Up John Isner, Nicolas Mahut For Rematch

The draws for Wimbledon 2011 are nearly set, with the final qualifying matches scheduled to wrap up Saturday following a rain delay.

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Wimbledon 2011: The John Isner-Nicolas Mahut Rematch Will Be A Letdown, And That's Fine

Everybody remembers what happened after John Isner and Nicolas Mahut's eleven-hour first-round match at Wimbledon 2010, right? Mahut went home, and Isner staggered through a second-round straight-set loss to Thiemo De Bakker and bowed out of the doubles draw. The tournament organizers, you may have heard, have a cheeky sense of humor and paired the two for a rematch for the first round of 2011 Championships play. It'll be a big draw. Both men will be welcomed as heroes. And the match will probably wrap up in four sets.

And that's totally fine. Another three-day slog would diminish the awe of last year's match, to say nothing of sending both players to the ice tub for three solid weeks following. And the sideshow surrounding the match has already passed well beyond the point of irritation. (See Bodog, offering odds on match descriptors.) Last summer was lightning in a bottle, and a joy to watch (for at least the first eight hours). Now, let's see both players make it through grass-court season with all their limbs intact.

Mercifully, the only parties seeming to maintain a healthy perspective on next week's opening-round action are ... the players themselves, who've since become survival buddies:

"It's going to be pretty nuts," Isner said Friday after the draw. "I couldn't believe it. I joked with [Mahut] earlier in the week, last week, and said, 'Watch us play each other,' and he said, 'No, there's no way, that's not even funny.'" [...] "We're really good friends now, but obviously we both want to win. But we're going to enjoy it and laugh at it at the same time."

Isner and Mahut are currently scheduled to face off on Day 2 (that's Tuesday, June 21).

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Wimbledon 2011: Hometown Anti-Hero Andy Murray Nets Favorable Draw

After two consecutive semifinals flameouts at the All England Club, is Andy Murray ready to compete at Wimbledon's second Sunday? "Probably not!", wags a dogged press corps eager to go from describing him as "a Brit" to "the Scot" the second he puts a foot wrong. Still, with the 2011 Championships just days away, it's hard to argue Great Britain's only hope for the cup could be in a better position to walk away with a win. 

Murray's injured (still nursing ligament damage in a tender ankle), but so are a handful of other top players. The absence of two of them (Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer) from the Aegon Classic last week assisted the World No. 4 in claiming the Queen's Club title. As the four-seed, Murray is afforded his own cushy quarter in an anticipated runup to a semifinals match with Rafa Nadal, where his earliest possible seeded opponent would be No. 27 Marin Cilic in Round 3. Also lurking as quarterfinals threats are No. 8 Andy Roddick and No. 9 Gael Monfils, neither any slouch on grass. 

Murray will play on Day 1, opening the Championships with the Spanish Armada's Daniel Gimeno-Traver, and until then he's spending time, much like the rest of us, openly rooting for the Isner-Mahut rematch to be moved to Centre Court

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Wimbeldon Draw 2011: Preliminary Brackets Set Up John Isner, Nicolas Mahut For Rematch

Rain at the All England Club will prevent the qualifying rounds for Wimbledon from being completed Friday, but the important bits of the draw for the 2011 Championships are set. You can view the as-yet incomplete Wimbledon brackets on the tournament's official website.

There are a few surprises in the early rounds, most notably a first-round date between American John Isner and France's Nicolas Mahut. These two, you will recall, have something of a history in lawn tennis, and their rematch ensures that no talking head will lack for material if the majority of early-round matches prove uninteresting. Even if this match is uninteresting, it will be breathlessly gossiped over because of its difference from the last match, which was very long! You might have heard! Both players reside in Federer's draw, so look forward to one or the other being completely worn out by the time he meets the Maestro's one-armed buzzsaw backhand.

Kim Clijsters withdrew from the Championships this week with another injured foot, but returning from rehab in the women's draw are the Williams sisters, Serena seeded No. 7 and Venus at No. 23. They're placed in opposite halves of the draw, setting up a possible (if unlikely) fifth finals rematch on tennis' sacred grass.

Tournament play at Wimbledon begins Monday, June 20. Matches will air on the Tennis Channel, ESPN2, and NBC.

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