LONDON (AP) — An epic day of sports in London came down to two unprecedented endings a few minutes — and miles — apart.
Novak Djokovic won the Wimbledon title in a brand new fifth-set tiebreaker just as England played the first Super Over in history to win the Cricket World Cup . Djokovic beat Roger Federer just after 7 p.m. on Sunday evening (GMT), while England beat New Zealand in the cricket final about 20 minutes later.
Making things even more exciting for local sports fans was the British Grand Prix. Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton, who is British, won the race for a record sixth time.
In Monday’s The Times of London newspaper, a large photo of a smiling Djokovic holding his gold trophy over his head was placed right in the middle of Page 1. Next to it was the headline: “England end 44-year wait for glory in crazy final.”
The picture and the story had nothing to do with each other — they did have one thing in common, though: It was quite a day to be a sports fan in London.
The All England Club, the host of the Wimbledon tournament since its inception in 1877, never had used tiebreakers in deciding sets until this year. In 2010, for instance, John Isner and Nicolas Mahut played for more than 11 hours before Isner finally won 70-68 in the fifth set. And last year, Kevin Anderson beat none-other-than Isner in the semifinals 26-24 in the fifth set.
In an effort to put an end to those never-ending matches, the organizers this year decided to force players into a tiebreaker if the deciding set goes to 12-12.
It didn’t take long for the new rule to affect a final. Although Federer had a chance to win it while serving at 8-7 on Centre Court, Djokovic saved two match points. The tiebreaker eventually made its debut in a Wimbledon final and Djokovic won it.
From southwest London to northwest London, something somewhat similar happened at almost the same exact time.
Never before had a Cricket World Cup final finished in a tie. But this one did, with England scoring its last run on its last ball to get to 241 runs — the same score New Zealand had put up a few hours earlier.
The decision to play the Super Over left thousands of fans gasping in anticipation at Lord’s — the home of cricket and the equivalent to the All England Club for tennis. In essence, a Super Over allows both teams to face six thrown balls each— known as an over. The team with the most runs would win.
But, of course, things don’t always go to plan, and they didn’t this time because both teams scored 15 runs in the Super Over. And that meant England won because they had hit more boundaries in the match.
(For baseball fans, that means England had more home runs and more ground-rule doubles than New Zealand during the match. For tennis fans, it’s sort of like winning because one player had more aces than the other.)
The cricket win didn’t exactly make up for England’s loss in the soccer World Cup semifinals last year in Russia, but it certainly did send thousands of revelers right into the fountain in Trafalgar Square in celebration.
All of that made for quite an exhilarating Sunday, and it also proved Hamilton prophetic.
“This is such a special weekend it needs the focus of the whole country,” Hamilton said on Thursday, questioning the decision to put all three big sporting events on at the same time. “People will be switching between channels on Sunday not knowing what to watch.”
Whatever they chose, it’s hard to think they were disappointed.
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