Εδώ και δύο μέρες ο Αμερικανός Τζον Ίσνερ και ο Γάλλος Νικολά Μαχούτ αγωνίζονται για τη νίκη στο δεύτερο γύρο του Γουίμπλεντον. Χτες πάλευαν μέχρι που νύχτωσε και ήταν ισοπαλία, 2-2 σετ και 18-18 γκέιμς στο τάι μπρεϊκ. Σήμερα μπήκαν και συνέχισαν στο ίδιο βιολί: Έχοντας συμπληρώσει 10 ώρες παιχνιδιού, το μεγαλύτερο αγώνα στην ιστορία του αθλήματος, έφτασαν στο 59-59 πριν τους σταματήσει πάλι ο διαιτητής. Το εξαντλητικό παιχνίδι που έχει πλέον τη δική του σελίδα στη Wikipedia, έγινε trending topic στο Twitter καταπάνω στην κάψα του 4ου ομίλου στο Μουντιάλ, και έφερε τον σχολιαστή του Guardian που έκανε liveblogging σε παροξυσμό δημιουργικότητας και φαντασίας, όταν οτιδήποτε είχε να πει σε σχέση με το τένις είχε πια (10 ώρες μετά!) τελειώσει. Απολαυστικά δείγματα:
But none of this means a thing to the Everlasting Zombie Tennis Players on Court 18. They hear nothing but the thud of the ball off their racket and the sonorous tones of their Zombie Umpire. They can think of nothing beyond their next trudge to the chair for a short sit down before the ordeal begins again anew. They have forgotten all about Wimbledon and the world beyond the backstop.
It’s over. It’s finally over. It was a long, hard match and it took its toll on the players. But finally, at long last, we have a result.
I’m actually talking about the football here. England win 1-0 against Slovenia to go through to the knock-out stage. The Isner-Mahut match is still ongoing: 24-24 in the final set. Isner’s leg has just dropped off.
I’m wondering if maybe an angel will come and set them free. Is this too much to ask? Just one slender angel, with white wings and a wise smile, to tell them that’s it’s all right, they have suffered enough and that they are now being recalled.
And so this match goes on and on, on and on. Somewhere along the way, the players have mislaid their names. The man who was once Mahut is now a string-bag of offal. The man who was Isner is a parched piece of cow-hide. The surviving members of the audience don’t seem to care who wins. They just cheer and applaud whoever looks likely to make a breakthrough and bring this nightmare to a close. Invariably they are disappointed.
What happens if we steal their rackets? If we steal their rackets, the zombies can no longer hit their aces and thump their backhands and keep us all prisoner on Court 18. I’m shocked that this is only occurring to me now. Will nobody run onto the court and steal their rackets? Are they all too scared of the zombies’ clutching claws and gore-stained teeth?
“John!” chants the crowd. “John! John! John!” They’re either calling for Isner or calling for a bathroom break, or possibly both. I’m still not convinced they want Isner to win any more than they want Mahut to win. They just want someone to win; anyone to win. They just long to be released and to go back home. Possibly via the bathroom.
That was beyond tennis. I think it was even beyond survival, because there is a strong suggestion (soon to be confirmed by doctors) that John Isner actually expired at about the 20-20 mark, and Mahut went soon afterwards, and the remainder of the match was contested by Undead Zombies who ate the spectators during the change of ends (again, this is pending a police investigation).
Still, if you’re going to watch a pair of zombies go at each other for eleventy-billion hours, far into the night, it might as well be these zombies. They were incredible, astonishing, indefatigable. They fell over frequently but they never stayed down. My hat goes off to these zombies.
Possibly my head goes off to them too.