With no end in sight to his Wimbledon semi-final, American John Isner sat slumped in his chair deep into the fifth set and pleadingly looked up at umpire Marija Cicak with a request: "Can we play a tiebreak please?"
He knew the answer but after losing the longest-ever semi-final at Wimbledon 7-6(6) 6-7(5) 6-7(9) 6-4 26-24 to South African Kevin Anderson in an epic match that lasted six hours and 36 minutes - the longest ever semi-final at Wimbledon - calls to introduce a final set tiebreak again grew louder.
"As an ex-athlete seeing these guys going for it, you have the utmost respect. But this is absurd," declared seven-times Grand Slam champion John McEnroe while commentating.
"I hope this is a sign for Grand Slams to change. For us to be out there for that length of time. I really hope we can look at this because at the end you don't feel great," said the eighth seed Anderson who has less than 48 hours to get his fatigued body ready for the biggest match of his life.
In his last two matches alone, Anderson has been on the court for almost 11 hours. He beat defending champion Roger Federer 13-11 in the fifth set of the quarter-finals before Friday's contest drained the life out of him.
Of the four Grand Slam tournaments, deciding set tiebreaks are only contested at the US Open when the score is at 6-all. The other three majors all play out the fifth set until the winner is ahead by two games.
"I personally don't see the added value or benefit compared to the U.S. Open where we're playing tiebreaks in the fifth set," added Anderson, the first South African man to reach the Wimbledon final in 97 years.
For Isner, who has come off second best in five-set marathons for the fourth successive year at Wimbledon, things simply cannot go on like this any more. "If one person can't finish the other off before 12-all, then do a tiebreaker there," said the American. "I think it's long overdue. I can't say it enough, the rule needs to change."
Anderson added that it was not just the players who were losing out but fans, who had paid 170 pounds ($225) to see two semi-finals, were also being short-changed.
The knock on effect also meant Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic were kept waiting till past 8 pm local time to start their semi-final and will have to return on Saturday to finish the match because they ran out of time before the 11 pm curfew.