Isner vs Mahut, Wimbledon 2010: The longest match in tennis history – Viral News

When USA’s John Isner and France’s Nicolas Mahut took the Court No. 18 in a first-round match in the 2010 Wimbledon, neither would have thought that the battle would last three days.

The match started on June 22, a Tuesday, and ended on June 24, a Thursday.

On the first day, the match was a closely contested one, involving gripping back-and-forth action between the players. Isner, seeded 23rd, after being down two-sets-to-one, fought valiantly to claw back into the match and take it to a decider. Soon after, the chair umpire was forced to suspend play owing to low visibility. The match, that had been played for more than three hours on Tuesday, was stopped around 9:10 pm local time before the fifth set could begin.

Back then, there was no deciding-set tiebreaker which is the norm now. At one point, Isner led Mahut 33-32 in the decider. It seemed that the American would finally put an end to the long drawn match and win it when he had two match points, but the French qualifier didn’t think so.

Mahut fought back and made it 33-33.

The crowd continued to come in great numbers, but after 99 games, the electronic scoreboard needed a break as it stopped working. It was Mahut once again who, on his serve, won the 100th game of the fifth set and got the match back to level terms with 50 games each.

Mahut continued to stay in the match as he won the 118th game to bring the fifth set’s score to 59-59 before asking for the play to be suspended due to darkness, and his request was accepted. The match duration, at the end of the second day, had crossed 10 hours, well past the previous record of the longest tennis match – the first-round clash between Fabrice Santoro and Arnaud Clément from French Open 2004 which went on for 6 hours 33 minutes.

On the third day, it was Isner who broke Mahut’s serve in the 138th game and won the match with a final score of 6-4, 3-6, 6-7 (7-9), 7-6 (7-3), 70-68. The American’s immeasurable joy on clinching victory was understandable when he flung his racquet across the grass court and dropped to the ground after match-point.

The fifth set alone spanned over eight hours, with the whole match coming to around 11 hours 5 minutes.

It was when Isner featured in another marathon match — this time during the 2018 Wimbledon semifinals against Kevin Anderson which the South African won 7–6(6), 6–7(5), 6–7(9), 6–4, 26–24 — that a rule change was brought in place to bring a deciding set tiebreak at the grass Major if the score reached 12-12.

Since 2022, all Grand Slams have a 10-point tiebreak to finish the match in case the score in the deciding set is 6-6.

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