John Isner and Nicolas Mahut had barely exchanged a word before they stepped on to an outside court in last year's Wimbledon.
Three days and 183 games later, after the longest match in the tournament's history, the two men were not only tennis legends but friends in the making. With each to some extent defined by the other, that happy consequence of a match in which, for the record, the American Isner eventually prevailed over his French opponent, could perhaps have been predicted.
What no one would have dared to consider was the possibility that the pair might meet at Wimbledon for a second time. Yet, astonishingly, that is what the draw for the first round of this year's tournament threw up yesterday: Isner vs Mahut. "The most amazing thing I've seen in tennis!" Andy Murray tweeted.
A match at this stage between two lower-ranked players – which is what Isner and Mahut remain – would never normally stand a chance of being scheduled on a show court. But that's what Isner and Mahut – and the fans who will want to acclaim them – deserve.