On this day in 2010 – John Isner and Nicolas Mahut play out Wimbledon marathon

PA Sport Staff
PA Media: Sport

The longest match in tennis history was completed at Wimbledon on this day in 2010.

Here, the PA news agency looks back at American John Isner’s epic victory over Frenchman Nicolas Mahut in the men’s singles.

Isner holds his nerve

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Isner celebrates his famous victory after finally breaking Mahut’s serve in the fifth set – two days after they started the match (PA)
Isner celebrates his famous victory after finally breaking Mahut’s serve in the fifth set – two days after they started the match (PA)

Isner finally broke the serve of Mahut to secure an unforgettable 70-68 victory in the deciding set of their first-round encounter, which spanned over three days.

After 11 hours and five minutes on Court 18 and with a raft of records having been broken, 23rd seed Isner found two crucial winners to break his opponent’s resistance in the 138th game of an astonishing set.

The pair had first walked on court at 6.13pm on Tuesday, June 22 and Isner secured a 6-4 3-6 6-7 (7/9) 7-6 (7/3) 70-68 triumph at 4.47pm on Thursday, June 24 to bring the curtain down on one of the most remarkable episodes in the All England Club’s history.

Records tumbled…

The match remains by far the longest in tennis history in both number of games – 183 – and time. The final set alone, which lasted eight hours and 11 minutes, was longer than the previous longest match.

The previous grand slam record was six hours and 33 minutes set by Fabrice Santoro and Arnaud Clement at the French Open in 2004.

Prior to Isner’s marathon win the previous record for games played in a match was 122, set in 1973 in a Davis Cup match when the USA’s Stan Smith and Erik Van Dillen defeated Chile’s Patricio Cornejo and Jaime Fillol 7–9 37–39 8–6 6–1 6–3.

The previous record for most games in a singles match was 112, set in 1969 when Pancho Gonzales beat Charlie Pasarell 22–24 1–6 16–14 6–3 11–9, also in the first round at Wimbledon.

…And more records tumbled

A plaque at Wimbledon commemorates the titanic match (Rebecca Naden/PA)
A plaque at Wimbledon commemorates the titanic match (Rebecca Naden/PA)

Isner, 6ft 10in, and Mahut set a new record for the highest number of aces in a match – 215.

Ivo Karlovic and Radek Stepanek fired down 96 aces between them in the 2009 Davis Cup semi-final tie between Croatia and the Czech Republic, but Isner smashed 112 to set a new individual record, while Mahut weighed in with 103.

Both players surpassed Croatian Ivo Karlovic’s previous record of 78 aces that he served in a Davis Cup match against the Czech Republic’s Radek Stepanek in September 2009.

Isner and Mahut’s titanic battle also set new records for consecutive service games held in a match (168), most games won in a match by both winning player (92) and losing player (91), most points played in a match (980) and most points won in a match (Mahut 502, Isner 478).

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