Thursday, 24 June 2010

VCB 16: It ain't over till its over

I was reluctant to do another sport related blog as I did do one previously in my VidConBlog project. However that was before Wimbledon and the Isner/Mahut match! If you don't follow tennis or live under rock you may not be aware that a match played at Wimbledon over the last three days has smashed all tennis records. It finally came to an end this afternoon with a gripped and enthralled nation watching.

I am going to tell you a bit about tennis, Wimbledon, and of course, the longest tennis match in history... ever. I will keep it short so stick with me even if you aren't a tennis fan. Maybe I'll convert you!


I am going to admit something. I didn't start of a tennis fan at all. I remember at school the very few times I played it I quite enjoyed it. However watching it on television never interested me; that was, until I learnt the rules. It is funny how gaining an understanding of something can make you instantly like it.

It is actually quite a simple sport: If you put the ball out of the court markings then your opponent gets a point. The points go 0 (called 'love', aww) to 15 to 30 to 40 to you've won the game. Don't ask why it doesn't go 1-2-3-4. I guess that would be to simple to grasp. If the players are both on 40 then this is called deuce and they play an extra point which is A (advantage). This is because in tennis you have to have a two point lead (this may seem a boring thing to explain but it will make sense later).

You play games until you win a set. A set of games can go up to 6-6 and you win with a 2 point lead (so 6-4 for example). If you do however reach 6-6 then you play what is called a tie-break which is a deciding round (I won't bother explaining this but it is basically first to 7 points... and in the tie-break they count in normal numbers. Weird). Okay so once you have won the set then you want to win the best of three sets to get the match or the best of five. Although I am not sure why you go to best of five... okay so it isn't that simple. But hopefully you get the gist.


Although I say I am a fan of tennis the only tournament I watch is Wimbledon. Wimbledon is one of the main 'grand slam' events (others are the French Open, the Austrailian Open and the er American Open?) and is considered by most playeds to be the best tournament in tennis.

The great thing about Wimbledon is that it is so steeped in tradition. Until I watched other tournaments I thought tennis players only ever played in white. In fact it is only Wimbledon that dictates players must wear white. This may seem a bit ridiculous but the players don't seem to mind and everyone looks so smart and clean!

Other things Wimbledon is famous for include strawberries and cream (my family did indeed eat strawberries on the first day of Wimbledon), which is what the Queen ate on her first visit in over 30 years today. The other famous thing is Wombles, but they tend to stick to the Common.* By the way quick fact - the rate of litter dropping went up in Wimbledon after the Wombles came out. Apparently kids were trying to entice them out and get a look!

*If you are confused click here.

The record breaking match

If you remember I mentioned that to win a set you have to get a lead of 2 points. Now for each game the players alternate who is serving and the person who serves usually wins. To win you need to, at some point, 'break' the serve of the other person. This gives you an extra point so you can get that lead! If you also remember I discussed a tie-break situation for when a set gets to 6 games all. Unfortunately in the fifth set there is no tie break. You go on until someone breaks serve and wins. The thing is... in the case of the Mahut/Isner match... no one could break serve.

The result of this was an epic match spanning three days and taking 11 hours 5 minutes to complete. Unlike the usual 6, 7, 8 games for a player in the final match, this one ended at 68-70. The record of the longest match was surpasses early on day two and they kept going. hey broke more than just that record. The previous record for aces in a single match (an ace is a point won on an unreturned serve) was 50 something. In this match both Isner and Mahut both got over 100. It is unbelievable stuff.

I wanted to blog about this because this day will undoubtedly be one of the most remembered in tennis for as long as the sport exists. For a start it is unlikely to happen again because a change of rules will probably prevent it, but even so it is just an unprecedented occurrence.

In the end the US American Isner won over Frenchman Mahut and suffice it to say he was pretty happy. I was very happy he won because he had literally been at collapsing point the previous night. And to see someone almost falling over from exhaustion yet still play at the level he was... it was something special. By the way they both lost so much water through sweat that they were put on IVs!

At the end of the match a special presentation was made to the two players and the umpire (who had not taken a single toilet break during the entire match!). It was a nice gesture but making Mahut stay on the court for pictures and interviews and a presentation was a bit harsh when he clearly wanted to go and have a good cry! But there you go. What a match!

I could say more but I fear I may bore people to tears. Leave me comments and, as always, I'll respond.

My answer: I can't really answer this one because I do it everyday! Tomorrow though I might do 'a life in the day of Helen'.


A.J. James said...

I would like to know when you first realised you were a cinephile (lover of films) I think that would make a really great blog!!!! I love you

Beth said...

Okay, blog suggestions time. This is actually quite difficult:

I really find list blogs to be quite interesting. Maybe a blog about the things you would most like to accomplish over the next year. Maybe a blog about all the things you wish to do while in the U.S. (specifically at California with some Classy Ladies). Maybe a blog about what you would consider the most important day of your life so far. Maybe a blog about how the internet has changed your life (though some of that seems pretty obvious). Or some things about England/the UK that you think us Americans should know.

Helen E. Abbott said...

@JooJoo - Done!

@Beth - Awesome suggestions! That will keep me going :)