Starting in 2019, the Wimbledon Championships will use tiebreakers in final sets if the score gets to 12-12, the All-England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) has announced.
“In reaching this decision, the AELTC Committee sought the feedback of both players and officials, analyzed two decades of match data, and considered other factors including scheduling complexities and spectator experience,” said AELTC Chairman Philip Brook. “Our view was that the time had come to introduce a tiebreak method for matches that not reached their natural conclusion at a reasonable point during the deciding set. While we now the instances of matches extending deep into the final set are rare, we feel that a tiebreak at 12-12 strikes an equitable balance between allowing players ample opportunity to complete match to advantage, while also providing certainty that the match will reach a conclusion in an acceptable timeframe.”
Eight years ago, John Isner and Nicholas Mahut played until 70-68 in the final set in a match that took over 11 hours and lasted more than three days. It was the longest match in tennis history. Last year, Kevin Anderson outlasted Isner 26-24 in the semifinals.
“There were mixed views, it’s fair to say. But predominantly, players favored the final-set tiebreak,” said Wimbledon CEO Richard Lewis. “They recognize the quality of tennis goes down, players start playing not to lose rather than the excitement or the determination to win. And they recognize it affects the quality of the matches on subsequent rounds.”