American John Isner’s 64 36 67(7) 76(3) 70-68 first round defeat of Nicolas Mahut at Wimbledon set the record for the longest ever tennis match in history in terms of number of games and duration.
“The guy’s an absolute warrior,” Isner said afterward during an on-court ceremony which featured Tim Henman and Anne Jones. “It stinks someone had to lose. To share this with him was an absolute honor. Maybe we’ll meet again somewhere down the road and it won’t be 70-68.”
According to ITF and Wimbledon records, the match stretched over three days: it began at 18:08 local time on Tuesday, and was suspended overnight at 21:03 at two-sets all; resumed at 14:07 at the start of the fifth set on Wednesday, and was suspended again at 21:10 on Wednesday evening with the score at 64 36 67 76 59-59; resumed at 15:42 on Thursday and was completed at 16:48.
The match lasted 11 hours 5 minutes and totalled 183 games. The final set alone lasted 8 hours 11 minutes. In comparison, the fewest games played through seven rounds to win a Grand Slam Open Era men’s singles title is 147, by Guillermo Vilas at the 1977 US Open.
On Wednesday, Isner missed four match points in the fifth set, one at 10-9, two at 33-32, and one at 59-58.
There were 168 consecutive service holds; until the final game, the last break of serve had been in the second game of the second set when Isner was broken at 0-1.
The two also combined for a record 215 aces. Isner finished with 112 and Mahut 105, both easily besting Ivo Karlovic’s previous best mark of 78.
“John deserved to win,” Mahut said. “He served unbelievable, he’s a champion. It was really an honour to play the greatest match ever at the greatest place for tennis. It was very long but I think we both enjoyed it.”
Isner is still schedule to play doubles with good friend Sam Querrey later Thursday. Isner will be back in singles for his delayed second round match on Friday against Thiemo De Bakker who himself with 16-14 in the fifth to win yesterday. The winner of that match will have to play their third round on Saturday.
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