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Breakers and royals take Wimbledon spotlight

Sports Desk |
Update: 2010-06-23 19:13:43

LONDON: Nicolas Mahut and John Isner will drag their weary bodies back onto court at Wimbledon on Thursday to resume the longest match in tennis history as Queen Elizabeth II makes her first visit since 1977.


A string of tennis records were blown away as Mahut and Isner came off court on Wednesday at 59-59 in the final set, having slugged it out for 10 hours when play was suspended as they ran out of daylight.


Tennis fans packed out the 782-capacity Court 18, with people lining the roof of the Wimbledon broadcasting centre several deep, and straining to peer through any gaps they could to catch a glimpse of the epic match.


The unfinished fifth set itself was longer than the previous longest match ever played.


That match took six hours and 33 minutes. The shattered record was set at the 2004 French Open, when Fabrice Santoro beat fellow Frenchman Arnaud Clement 6-4, 6-3, 6-7, 3-6, 16-14.


Despite the draining effects of their heroic battle, a winner must still be found and Mahut and Isner are scheduled to return to action in the third match on Court 18 on Thursday.


"Nothing like this will ever happen again, ever," said an exhausted Isner, while Mahut added: "We played for too long."
The conclusion of the historic encounter will take the spotlight later on Thursday, but attention will be fixed firmly on Centre Court when British number one Andy Murray is set to play in front of the Queen.


Murray, the world number four, takes on Finland`s Jarkko Nieminen in a second-round match due to start at 1200GMT, with the Queen expected to watch from the Royal Box.
The Queen may then watch women`s third seed Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark play Taiwan`s Chang Kai-Chen, before French Open champion Rafael Nadal plays his second-round match against Holland`s Robin Haase.


It takes something special to outshine six-time champion Roger Federer and five-time women`s winner Venus Williams at Wimbledon, but Mahut and Isner did just that.


Federer edged into the third round with a 6-3, 6-7 (4/7), 6-4, 7-6 (7/5) win over Serbian qualifier Ilija Bozoljac.
Federer needed to reassert his authority at the All England Club after he was forced to come back from two sets down and break to save the match in his first round clash win over Colombian Alejandro Falla.


But the Swiss did just enough to see off the unheralded Bozoljac, ranked 152nd in the world, and the air of invincibility that usually surrounds the world number two was absent.


Last year`s beaten finalists Williams and Andy Roddick both made it through to the third round.


Fifth seed Roddick came back from a set down to beat France`s Michael Llodra in four sets, while there was no such trouble for his fellow American, who beat Russia`s Ekaterina Makarova in straight sets.


Williams, who has won nine Wimbledon trophies in all, cruised through the first set 6-0 but was broken in the second, despite taking it 6-4.


Three-time Wimbledon finalist Roddick was making his first appearance on Centre Court since his epic 16-14 last set defeat to Federer in last year`s final.

The American number one beat Llodra 4-6, 6-4, 6-1, 7-6 (7/2).


Serbian third seed Novak Djokovic beat Taylor Dent of the United States 7-6 (7/5), 6-1, 6-4.


Nikolay Davydenko became the highest seed to crash out of the men`s singles at this year`s Wimbledon when the Russian seventh seed was beaten 1-6, 7-6 (7/5), 7-6 (10/8), 6-1 by Germany`s Daniel Brands.


In the women`s singles, fourth seed Jelena Jankovic fought back to win 4-6, 6-2, 6-4 against Canada`s Aleksandra Wozniak.


BDST: 1518hrs, June 24, 2010
SA

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