The Wimbledon championships are the oldest competition in the history of professional tennis and a lot has happened since the first tournament in 1877. However, one of the most important events was the longest tennis match, a match that broke the record world.
During the 2010 edition of the Wimbledon tournament, in the first round of men’s singles, the longest tennis match was played, with a total duration of 11 hours, 6 minutes and 23 seconds. The winner was the American John Isner, who beat the Frenchman Nicolas Mahut. The total number of games played was 183, making it one of the records broken in the match.
The sporting context of the longest tennis match
It is good to remember that, before the match, John Isner was already considered the top seed, because he was one of the best competitors in the tournament. Furthermore, he had had a successful professional career since his inception in 2007. For his part, Nicolas Mahut had beaten Rafael Nadal in the Queen’s tournament, thus he was listed as one of the best tennis players in the world .
At Wimbledon 2010, Isner was ranked 23rd in the competition, while Mahut qualified with some difficulty in a match against Britain’s Alex Bogdanovic. However, no one imagined that on June 22 of that year the longest tennis match in history would begin.
Match timeline Mahut vs Isner
The opening round of the Isner vs. Mahut match was played on Court 18 at the All England Club. On the first day only 4 sets were played: in the first Mahut won 6-4, the next was for Isner 3-6. These first two sets went down relatively quickly, in about 1 hour. The third favored the French 7-6, while in the fourth Isner was victorious again 6-7. However, after 2 hours and 54 minutes and a tie-break, evening fell and the sun went down, so the match was called off due to too little natural light. At that time, the score was tied at 2 sets for each player.
Day 2: The longest tennis set
The next day, on Wednesday June 23, 2010, the longest Wimbledon match was resumed. The fifth set started at 14:05 and lasted no less than 8 hours and 11 minutes, which can give us an idea of how long the longest tennis match lasted. According to historical data, this second day 4 groups of 28 ball boys and 2 groups of 14 line judges had to work. On this second day, 118 games were completed. When the score was 59-59, 10 hours of the game had been completed. However, although exhausted, the Mahut-Isner duo did not give up. Only the sunset could stop the battle.
To all these, it is worth saying that a large number of the public stayed both in the place and from their homes, since the game turned out to be almost eternal, but never boring. In fact, it has been said that the matches involving important tennis figures like Venus Williams ceased to matter for many, as they focused on the match that was breaking all records. Other sports stars, such as Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic, expressed to the media their admiration for the feat their teammates were achieving.
It is necessary to remember that Mahut and Isner remained even in many moments: 38-38, 46-46, etc. Sports historians say that when they reached 50-50, a great spontaneous ovation was raised among the spectators. When the score was tied at 58, Isner scored the fourth match-point of the match, but Mahut immediately surprised with an ace. At that time, the Wimbledon supervisor had to enter to postpone the match again due to lack of natural lighting.
Day 3: One of the two must win
Thursday June 24, 2010 was final. One of the great tennis players had to be the winner of the match. Although it was a first round match, Court 18 was packed with spectators half an hour before the battle resumed. The event looked like a grand finale. The organization of the tournament had to consider the state of exhaustion of the players and let them rest a little longer than normal, for this reason, they played in the third shift of the day.
The match kicked off again at 3:40 p.m. London time. The first game was won by Isner thanks to an excellent serve. The score was 60-59. On television, sports commentators could not believe the numbers they were announcing, more like a basketball game than tennis.
The players continued to level the score until an hour later, at 68-69, Isner obtained his fifth match-point, thanks to a backhand down the line passing that gave the American the definitive victory of the match, with a close result of 70 -68, after more than 11 hours.
The match came close to reaching 1,000 points, with only 52 errors from Isner and 39 from Mahut. As for the winners, the figure was fairly even, with 246 hits for the American and 244 for the Frenchman. It is estimated that only Isner used 7 tennis rackets in the fifth quarter.
The consequences of the longest tennis match
Although John Isner went down in history as the winner of this long match, it must be taken into account that the physical wear and tear was great. For this reason, the next day he did not have enough energy to face the Dutchman Thiemo De Bakker, who beat him in just 74 minutes.
Isner looked exhausted during the short match and later confessed to the media that he had never felt so tired and he hardly felt his legs. For his part, the Dutchman admitted that he was lucky to have won 16-14 against a player who had won 70-68 the day before.
Finally, it is worth commenting that, despite how painful it was for Mahut to lose to Isner, everything indicates that this match united them forever, since they seem to be friends judging by the messages that are sent through social networks., especially every time they celebrate another year since that great feat.