Longest Tennis Match Ever
Hardcore tennis fans will never forget the longest tennis match ever played at Wimbledon. When U.S. tennis player John Isner finally defeated France's Nicholas Mahut 6-4, 3-6, 6-7 (7-9), 7-6 (7-3), 70-68 to advance to the grand slam's second round, it marked the end of a match that lasted a record setting eleven hours and five minutes over the span of three days. It was by far the longest professional tennis match played in the open era in terms of time, total number of games played and games played in a set.
The fifth set alone-at eight hours, eleven minutes-took more time to complete than any other previous completed match in the history. The numbers associated with the game are simply mind-blowing. Isner and Mahut played a total of 183 games and combined to score 980 points, including 711 in just the fifth set. This day-by-day breakdown of the tennis match for the ages gives you an idea of how well these two players dueled with each other.
First Day: The match began in nondescript fashion on June 22, the tournament's second day, at 6:13 p.m. British time. Isner claimed the first set 6-4 and Mahut followed suit with a 6-3 victory in the second set. Things started to heat up in the third set when a tiebreaker was needed to decide the set. Mahut won the first tiebreaker 9-7 to claim the set. Isner rallied in the fourth set to force a second tiebreaker and he won that one 7-3. Play was finally suspended at 9:07 p.m., tied at two sets each, because of darkness.
Second Day: When play resumed at 2:04 p.m on June 23, Isner and Mahut just started their fifth set. They would go seven hours and six minutes before play was finally suspended again at 9:10 p.m. because of darkness, with the set knotted up at 59-59. Through 118 games on the second day, neither player could break the other's serve. Up to that point, they had produced some staggering numbers that shattered existing Wimbledon records. Both players only slept a few hours that night and were borderline delirious after spending ten hours on the grass court.
Third Day: A winner was finally crowned on June 24. Isner needed an additional hour before he finally gained an edge over Mahut. He took a 69-68 lead going into the final game and won the final game after drilling a forehand shot and then crushing a backhand down the line to win two consecutive points. It was just the second time Isner broke Mahut's serve all game and it was what he needed to secure a 70-68 fifth set victory. When the match ended, Isner dropped to the grass, rolled onto his back and kicked up his legs in celebration.
Aftermath: Isner would go on to lose his second round match to Thiemo de Bakker of the Netherlands 0-6, 3-6, 2-6 after simply having no legs left following his ironman first round effort. But his place in tennis history, along with Mahut's, is secure. It is unlikely two other pro tennis players can combine to put on a comparable show of endurance any time soon.