Wimbledon to introduce final set tie-breaks

John Isner and Nicolas Mahut in front of the scoreboard after their match at Wimbledon

Wimbledon will introduce tie-breaks in the final set of all events for the first time next year, but only once the score in the deciding set reaches 12-12, the All England Lawn Tennis Club announced on Friday. After a record-long semifinal between Kevin Anderson and John Isner last July that took 6 hours and 35 minutes and drew the ire of the tennis world, with Anderson winning the final set 26-24, Wimbledon will have final-set tiebreakers in 2019.

Seven-times Grand Slam champion Mats Wilander said he welcomed the decision, having labeled Kevin Anderson's epic semi-final win over Kevin Isner this year as "cruel".

Wimbledon is the second grand slam to introduce final-set tie-breaks, with singles matches at the US Open decided by a tie-break at 6-6.

Brook said: "Our view was that the time had come to introduce a tie-break method for matches that had not reached their natural conclusion at a reasonable point during the deciding set". The U.S. Open, however, starts its final-set tiebreakers at 6-6.

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The Australian Open and French Open still have open ended fifth sets but may now follow suit, although even 12-12 seems unnecessarily long.

Following the match, Anderson called for Wimbledon to rethink their policy on final set tie-breaks.

Isner was also involved in the longest match when the American beat France's Nicolas Mahut 70-68 in the final set of their first-round match in 2010.

AELTC chairman, Philip Brook, said: 'In reaching this decision, the AELTC Committee sought the feedback of both players and officials, analysed two decades of match data, and considered other factors including scheduling complexities and spectator experience. Visibly exhausted, he went on to lose the final to Novak Djokovic in straight sets. "I think players will play better because they know it will finish at 12-12 in a tie-break and they don't have to save energy".

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