Switch off if you're in a rush, Wimbledon is here

Fri Jun 26, 2015 9:34am EDT
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By Martyn Herman

LONDON (Reuters) - A simple plaque next to Court 18 at Wimbledon records the 11 hours and five minutes it took American John Isner to beat Frenchman Nicolas Mahut in a three-day epic in 2010.

That record-breaking duel, which Isner won 70-68 in a deciding fifth set, is unlikely ever to be surpassed but, even without the occasional freak match, watching tennis is becoming an increasingly time-consuming activity.

The days when players like Pete Sampras and Boris Becker served and volleyed and points were over in a blur, are no more.

When Novak Djokovic played Andy Murray in this year's Australian Open final, the first set alone took 72 minutes.

Some of their rallies lasted longer than the time it takes to make a cup of tea.

A decade ago the average for a set was 40 minutes.

Even on Wimbledon's slick lawns match times have risen in the past decade, but it is not just game style that is elongating matches -- it is also what happens when the ball is not even in play.

Fourteen-times grand slam champion Rafael Nadal, most often cited for slow play, is not alone in fussy pre-serve routines.   Continued...

John Isner of the U.S. (L) and France's Nicolas Mahut pose for a photograph next to the scoreboard on court 18 after their record breaking match at the 2010 Wimbledon tennis championships in London, June 24, 2010.   REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett