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).