Wimbledon’s marathon matches have been consigned to the past after the All England Club announced the introduction of final-set tie-breaks when the score reaches 12-12.
One of the most famous matches in Wimbledon history saw John Isner beat Nicolas Mahut 70-68 in the fifth set in 2010 while the change was prompted by another match involving Isner, when the American lost to Kevin Anderson 26-24 in the final set in this year’s semi-finals.
The knock-on effect meant the second semi-final between Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal had to be completed the following day, causing a two-hour delay to the women’s final.
The new rule will apply to all matches at next year’s tournament.
Chairman Philip Brook said: “In reaching this decision, the AELTC Committee sought the feedback of both players and officials, analysed two decades of match data, and considered other factors including scheduling complexities and spectator experience.
“Our view was that the time had come to introduce a tie-break method for matches that had not reached their natural conclusion at a reasonable point during the deciding set.
“While we know the instances of matches extending deep into the final set are rare, we feel that a tie-break at 12-12 strikes an equitable balance between allowing players ample opportunity to complete the match to advantage, while also providing certainty that the match will reach a conclusion in an acceptable time-frame.
“As a next step, we look forward to sharing further details with our Grand Slam, ITF, WTA and ATP colleagues when we meet in Singapore.”
Wimbledon is the second grand slam to introduce final-set tie-breaks, with singles matches at the US Open decided by a tie-break at 6-6.