By Sonia Oxley
LONDON (Reuters) - John Isner and Nicolas Mahut, who were locked in battle for 11 hours in the Wimbledon first-round last year, will face each again this year after Friday's draw threw up an extraordinary re-match.
The pair, who slogged out a freakish match that spanned three days on court 18 at the All England Club with Isner eventually triumphing 70-68 in the final set, will meet at the same stage this year when Wimbledon starts Monday.
The longest ever tennis match last year captured the imagination of the sporting world and left the players physically shattered with Mahut also bearing the mental scars as he battled depression for three months afterwards.
Before the draw Mahut had begged organizers not to schedule any of his matches on court 18, but little could he have known that there was an even more dramatic twist of fate in store.
The Frenchman had told Reuters this month that he felt "huge sadness to lose a match that I'll never get a chance to play again."
While fans might be hoping for a repeat of what was dubbed the "endless match," the players will settle for something much simpler when they find themselves once again stealing the spotlight from some of the bigger names in the first round.
World number one Rafa Nadal opens the defense of his title against American Michael Russell and the Spaniard has been drawn in the opposite half as six-times Wimbledon champion Roger Federer.
Federer, the third seed, starts his campaign against Kazakhstan's Mikhail Kukushkin, while second seed Novak Djokovic will take on France's Jeremy Chardy.
Home favorite Andy Murray, the fourth seed who warmed up for the tournament with victory at the Queen's Club grasscourt event, meets Daniel Gimeno-Traver of Spain.
(Reporting by Sonia Oxley; Editing by John Mehaffey)