Fifth-Set Tie-Break Coming To Wimbledon In 2019
Wimbledon took a historic step on Friday, announcing that beginning with the next edition of The Championships, there will be a final-set tie-break at 12-12.
Debate over whether or not to introduce a final-set tie-break came to the forefront at SW19 earlier this year when Kevin Anderson defeated John Isner in the event’s longest semi-final in history, with the South African triumphing 26-24 in the fifth set. Isner also played the longest match of all-time at Wimbledon, defeating Nicolas Mahut 70-68 in the final set in 2010.
“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,” said Philip Brook, the chairman of the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club. “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 timeframe.”
Isner, whose match against Anderson lasted six hours and 36 minutes, is happy with the change.
“I am in favour of the new fifth-set ti-break rule Wimbledon introduced today. As Kevin and I both suggested after our semi-final match this year, 12-12 in the fifth seems to be a sensible point in the match to introduce a tie-break," Isner said. "This will be beneficial to the player that wins in recovering for his or her next match, the players that are waiting to play the following match, and the fans who have paid to see a full schedule.”
The new rule will apply to all events at The Championships across Qualifying, Gentlemen’s, Ladies’, Mixed and Junior singles and doubles. It will be a traditional 12-point tie-break, with the first player to seven points — win by two — earning the victory.
“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," Brook said.