One more time: Isner draws Mahut at Wimbledon

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WIMBLEDON, ENGLAND (AP) - The longest-match rematch is coming to Wimbledon: John Isner and Nicolas Mahut will play each other in the first round.

Last year, the pair played the longest match in tennis history, with Isner winning 6-4, 3-6, 6-7 (7), 7-6 (3), 70-68 in a first-round match at the All England Club that lasted 11 hours, 5 minutes stretched over three days. A gasp followed the announcement at Friday’s draw, followed by laughter.

“It’s going to be pretty nuts,” Isner said Friday. “I couldn’t believe it. I joked with him earlier in the week, last week, and said, ‘Watch us play each other.’ And he said, ‘No, there’s no way. That’s not even funny.’”

The two players have become good friends since their historic encounter a year ago. They were to practice together Saturday but canceled those plans once they learned the rematch was on.

“We might do dinner (afterward),” Isner said. “We’re really good friends now, but obviously we both want to win. But we’re going to enjoy it and laugh at it at the same time.”

Isner couldn’t let go of the oddity, later tweeting a joke: “anyone seen the wimby draw? Who do I play?”

He was not the only one buzzing about this on Twitter.

Isner vs mahut drawing each other in the first round after last year is the most amazing thing I’ve seen in tennis! Centre court anyone?!” fourth-seeded Andy Murray said.

Former U.S. Davis Cup captain Patrick McEnroe borrowed brother John’s famous catchphrase in a posting: “you cannot be serious!!!”

The match last year was played on Court 18, and a plaque this year commemorates the epic contest. Isner said he didn’t mind which court they played on.

“I don’t care what they do,” Isner said. “It’s going to be crazy, they might put us on a bigger court, (or) put us back on that court (18).”

This year’s match is to take place _ or begin at least _ on Tuesday. Their first-round match was held over twice because of darkness last year. With rain forecast for the opening week of Wimbledon, there is a chance they could be delayed again.

Defending champion Rafael Nadal 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.

Seventh-seeded Serena Williams and big sister Venus Williams, who turned 30 on Friday, are in opposite halves, setting up the possibility for a fifth sibling final at the All England Club.

The sisters have won nine of the past 11 Wimbledon finals. Serena, who has won four, is 3-1 against five-time champion Venus in the final.

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