The drama that unfolded over three days between John Isner and Nicolas Mahut came to its official and predictable end today.
Isner, unquestionably physically demolished from 11 hours-plus of tennis to win his record-shattering first round match, was eliminated in straight sets by unseeded Dutchman Theimo de Bakker.
While the endurance of Isner to prevail in a 70-68 fifth set over Mahut was extraordinary, it raises very legitimate questions about the long-standing men’s tennis rule that a fifth set must be won with a two-game advantage and not a tie break. Clearly, Isner, a 25-year-old North Carolinian, had no reasonable shot beating anybody with professional-grade skills today.
It’s entirely likely some traditionalists will quash a reasonable suggestion that a fifth-set tie-break should be permissible outside of a tournament championship. However, just like instant replay in the NFL, and a needed call for it considerations in Major League Baseball following the Armando Galarraga debacle, rules need to be changed at times to benefit the evolution and growth of the sport.