Thanks to Allan Wood for Twigging me to the Gaurdian UK's Wimbledon 2010 Blog through his great post in "Joy of Sox", "Longest Tennis Match In History Ends On Third Day". I was going to post part of this in comments... but then it turned into something longer than I expected...
At the Gaurdian UK Wimbledon 2010 Blog, Xan Brooks, a Guardian UK associate editor, is writing the days events in short blog style posts that go up on the web page in real time. There's a story developing over at Court 18, one of the "off-broadway" venues at the world's oldest tennis tournament; a match between John Isner and Nicolas Mahut is entering the second hour of a tie breaking fifth set in a match that began the day before and was called due to darkness...
Xan Brooks writes:
"4.05pm: The Isner-Mahut battle is a bizarre mix of the gripping and the deadly dull. It's tennis's equivalent of Waiting For Godot, in which two lowly journeymen comedians are forced to remain on an outside court until hell freezes over and the sun falls from the sky. Isner and Mahut are dying a thousand deaths out there on Court 18 and yet nobody cares, because they're watching the football. So the players stand out on their baseline and belt aces past each-other in a fifth set that has already crawled past two hours. They are now tied at 18-games apiece.
On and on they go. Soon they will sprout beards and their hair will grow down their backs, and their tennis whites will yellow and then rot off their bodies. And still they will stand out there on Court 18, belting aces and listening as the umpire calls the score. Finally, I suppose, one of them will die."
I read on, and on at the Wimbledon 2010 live blog... nothing can beat the hilarious post above reprinted by Allen Wood at Joy of Sox - but quite a while later, this bit of inspiration evolves...
"7.20pm: And so this match goes on and on, on and on. Somewhere along the way, the players have mislaid their names. The man who was once Mahut is now a string-bag of offal. The man who was Isner is a parched piece of cow-hide. The surviving members of the audience don't seem to care who wins. They just cheer and applaud whoever looks likely to make a breakthrough and bring this nightmare to a close. Invariably they are disappointed.
The offal looks fresher, possesses a piercing backhand and still throws itself about the court on occasion. But the cow-hide can serve and has the advantage of going ahead by one game and forcing the offal to catch-up. This the offal is only too happy to do. It hits a backhand down the line and then follows that up with an ace, and the score now stands at 45 games apiece."
A few posts later:
"7.45pm: What happens if we steal their rackets? If we steal their rackets, the zombies can no longer hit their aces and thump their backhands and keep us all prisoner on Court 18. I'm shocked that this is only occurring to me now. Will nobody run onto the court and steal their rackets? Are they all too scared of the zombies' clutching claws and gore-stained teeth? Steal their rackets and we can all go home. Who's with me? Steal their rackets and then run for the tube.
It's 48-48. What further incentive do you need?"
"8pm: Don't look now but I think the cow-hide has officially expired. John Isner stands at the baseline. He is facing the right way but he is no longer moving and the string-bag of offal peppers him with aces left and right to bring the score to 50-50. But Cow Hide is still facing the right way and that says something. And he is still vertical, and that says something too. What it says, unfortunately, is that the match is not quite over yet."
Xan Brooks is like a dieing fish, out of water and on the beach, his breaths of inspiration are getting shorter and shorter, his attempt to power through now fading, and a tide is creeping in that threatens to swallow him away. Luckily the match is suspended due to darkness, again... No one notices as a comatose commentator drifts away on a blissful ebbing tide.
Image Credit: GulfNews.com/AFP
(The match begins again the next day tied 6-4, 3-6, 6-7, 7-6, 59-59. 11 games later it finally ends, John Isner prevails in the longest match ever played anywhere: 6-4, 3-6, 6-7, 7-6, 70-68.)
Xan Brooks picture; Guardian UK profile