10,000-1 shot happens: Isner faces Mahut on Centre Court

Jun 21, 2011 3:08 AM

It was a fifth set never before seen or imagined could ever happen. So compelling it transcended tennis, wagering, the Queen or anything else during that 11-hour, five-minute marathon last year at Wimbledon.

And even more incredible, we’re going to see the rematch again today.

"It’s going to be pretty nuts," John Isner said after learning he would again face Nicolas Mahut – this time in the first round of Wimbledon and likely on Centre Court. "We might do dinner (afterward). We’re really good friends now."

The odds the two would meet again in the first round were in the stratosphere. One figure emerging was 10,000-1. Maybe William Hill will book next year’s odds in Vegas.

Neither Isner or Mahut is expected to reach the second week, but if one does it would figure to be the 6-foot-9 giant Isner and his cannonball serve that smashed the 100-ace barrier in last year’s match. Again, another all-time record.

Once Isner-Mahut ends, we can re-focus on the men’s and women’s singles favorites. Defending champion Rafael Nadal (2-1 at most locals) was drawn in the opposite half from six-time champion Roger Federer, meaning there is a chance of a fourth Wimbledon final between the two.

The top-seeded Nadal started against Michael Russell of the United States in the opening match on Centre Court on Monday. Nadal has Juan Martin del Potro in the last 16 and a potential quarterfinal rematch of last year’s final against Tomas Berdych.

Federer has second-seeded Novak Djokovic as his projected semi-final opponent and could face former Wimbledon finalist David Nalbandian in the third round.

Nadal, Federer and Djokovic, along with fourth-seeded Andy Murray, the hope of Britain, are regarded as the four capable of winning the title.

In the women’s draw, the storyline will be the health of seventh-seeded Serena Williams and Venus Williams. The sisters are in opposite halves of the draw, setting up the possibility for a fifth final at the All England Club. Nine of the past 11 Wimbledon titles have been won by a Williams.

Top-seeded Caroline Wozniacki, the No. 1-ranked player looking for her first Grand Slam title could meet Serena in the semifinals.

French Open champion Li Na and 2004 Wimbledon champ Maria Sharapova will be ones to watch during the two-week event.