All smiles after the game but Mahut, right, admitted to suffering depression after the marathon game last year [GALLO/GETTY]

In a cruel twist of fate American John Isner and France's Nicolas Mahut were improbably drawn to face each other again in Wimbledon's first round on Friday, in a repeat of their marathon 183-game epic at last year's tournament.

Isner and Mahut were locked in battle for 11 hours in one of the most exciting games, slogging out a match that spanned three days on court 18 at the All England Club with Isner eventually triumphing 6-4, 3-6, 6-7 (7), 7-6 (3), 70-68  in the final set.

The draw on Friday, ensures the two will meet at the same stage this year when Wimbledon starts on Monday.

Shattering

The longest ever tennis match 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 organisers 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 news agency Reuters this month that he felt "huge sadness to lose a match that I'll never get a chance to play again".

Isner is adamant that the records set in last year's match will never be broken.

"It won't happen again," he said. "Not even come close."

Meanwhile, since last year's duel Isner and Mahut have become firm friends.

"Honestly, before Wimbledon, we'd never said one word to each other," Isner said of Mahut.

"Now we text each other quite often and I've got to know that he's a really class act and a really good guy."

Draw

In the main draw announced on Friday, Britain’s Andy Murray will face Daniel Gimeno-Traver of Spain in the first round, and could meet Novak Djokovic in the semi-finals.

The second-seeded Serb will first face Jeremy Chardy of France.

Top-seeded defending champion Rafael Nadal was drawn to face Michael Russell of the United States. He could meet six-time champion Roger Federer in the semi-finals. Federer will face Mikhail Kukushkin of Kazakhstan in the first round.

In the women's draw, seventh-seeded Serena Williams and big sister Venus Williams are in opposite halves, setting up the possibility for a fifth sibling final at the All England Club.

The sisters have won nine of the past 11 Wimbledon finals. Serena, who has won four, is 3-1 against five-time champion Venus in the final match. 

Source: Agencies