Isner–Mahut match at the 2010 Wimbledon Championships
|John Isner (23) vs. Nicolas Mahut (Q)|
|Date||22–24 June 2010|
|Previous head-to-head results|
|Mahut 1–0 Isner|
The Isner–Mahut match at the 2010 Wimbledon Championships is the longest match in tennis history, measured both by time and number of games. In the Gentlemen's Singles tournament first round, the American 23rd seed John Isner defeated the French qualifier Nicolas Mahut after 11 hours, 5 minutes of play over three days, with a final score of 6–4, 3–6, 6–7(7–9), 7–6(7–3), 70–68 for a total of 183 games.
The match began at 6:13 pm British Summer Time (17:13 UTC) on Tuesday, June 22, 2010. At 9:07 pm, due to fading light, play was suspended at two sets all. After resuming on Wednesday, June 23 at 2:05 pm, the record for longest match was broken at 5:45 pm. The light faded again, and so play was suspended at 9:10 pm, with the final set tied at 59 games all. Play resumed at 3:43 pm on Thursday, June 24, and Isner won at 4:48 pm, the final set having lasted 8 hours, 11 minutes.
The match took place during the 2010 edition of the 13-day Wimbledon Championships, held every June and July. Mahut, who was not ranked high enough to qualify for the tournament automatically, earned his place by winning in the qualifying pre-tournament, where he was seeded 27th. He played three qualification rounds, beating Frank Dancevic 6–3, 6–0, in the first round, then Alex Bogdanovic 3–6, 6–3, 24–22, and finally Stefan Koubek in five sets, 6–7(8), 3–6, 6–3, 6–4, 6–4.
Having played through the qualifying stage, Mahut was drawn against Isner in the first round of Gentlemen's Singles. Their match was scheduled for Court 18.
The match 
Match details 
The match started on the tournament's second day. As in all men's Grand Slam matches, the game was played as best of five sets.  While in the first four sets of a match a tiebreaker is used to decide a tied set, this does not apply in the fifth-set. As such, in the event of a tie in the fifth set, the players continue to play the set until one of them is leading by two games.
The first four sets passed without significant incident. Isner won the first set 6-4 thanks to a break of serve in the ninth game, but Mahut took the second set 6-3 having won the first three games of the set. The third and fourth set were both decided by tiebreakers, with Mahut winning the third set and Isner the fourth, leaving the score at two sets each. At the end of the fourth set, the match was halted due to darkness. Resuming on 23 June, it became the longest match ever. The match was suspended for a second time because of darkness on the evening of June 23 at 59–59 in the fifth set despite chants of "We want more, we want more" from the onlooking spectators.
Isner drank a "recovery shake" and took an ice bath. Fellow American Andy Roddick brought take-out food for him and his coach, including "three boxes of pizza, all sorts of chicken and mashed potatoes"; Isner said later that he was so hungry he could have eaten "12 Big Macs", but reported that drinking coconut water helped him rehydrate and avoid cramping as he had experienced in the past. He slept for less than four hours before arising. Mahut also slept for only a few hours, and had a cold bath and a massage. The next morning, the BBC reported that Mahut had been practising and Andy Murray informed them that Isner had been on a treadmill before play resumed.
The match was resumed on June 24, and both players continued to dominate their service games. At 68–69, 15–15, Mahut netted a drop shot that would likely have won the point. Isner, far back in the court at the time, later said that he wouldn't have had the energy to chase after that shot. On the next point, Isner passed Mahut at the net with a difficult inside-out forehand from the middle of the court that landed just inside the line and the service box. This brought up Isner's fifth match point (and the first in the day) and his 14th break point of the match, which he converted with a down-the-line backhand passing shot. Thus, after 65 minutes of play on the 3rd day of the match, Isner won the deciding final set, 70–68.
The chair umpire throughout the match was the Swedish official Mohamed Lahyani. Lahyani said afterwards that he was so "gripped by the amazing match" that his concentration stayed solid and he did not think about eating or going to the toilet. On the second day of the match, two groups of 14 linespeople and four groups of 28 ballboys and ballgirls were used in a rotation. At the end of the match, the umpire announced the score incorrectly, accidentally switching the scores of the two tie-break sets.
Scoreboard failure 
On the second day of play, the courtside scoreboard stood still at 47–47 and later went dark. IBM programmers said it was only programmed to go to 47–47 but would be fixed by the next day. The online scoreboard at the official website lasted slightly longer: At 50–50 it was reset to 0–0. Users were asked to "please add 50 to the Isner/Mahut game score". An IBM programmer worked on the scoring system until 11:45 pm to accommodate the match's scores for the next day, although it would have again malfunctioned had the match gone beyond 25 more games.
Special recognition 
Immediately after the match, both players and the umpire were presented with a crystal bowl and champagne flutes by Tim Henman and Ann Haydon-Jones on behalf of the All England Club, as special recognition of the game. The players were then interviewed on court by John Inverdale, before a photocall for the press alongside one of the two Court 18 scoreboards showing the score. Mahut subsequently donated memorabilia from the match for display at the International Tennis Hall of Fame's Museum in Newport, Rhode Island.
On 14 July Isner and Mahut were jointly awarded the 2010 ESPY Award for "Best Record-Breaking Performance", beating fellow nominees Roger Federer and Usain Bolt. Isner accepted the award in Los Angeles on behalf of both men.
Players' subsequent schedules 
As the winner, Isner advanced to the second round where he played Thiemo de Bakker on June 25 at 12 pm on Court 5. The match was originally scheduled for June 24, but it was postponed due to the length of Isner's first-round match against Mahut. De Bakker also had a lengthy first-round match against Santiago Giraldo, winning by a score of 16–14 in the fifth set, but unlike Isner had an additional day off prior to his second-round match. Isner lost to De Bakker 0–6, 3–6, 2–6 in just 74 minutes, the shortest men's Wimbledon match at that point in 2010, without serving a single ace. Isner was visibly exhausted and required medical treatment for neck and shoulder problems throughout the match.
Isner was also due to play a doubles match with his partner Sam Querrey on June 24 (against Michał Przysiężny and Dudi Sela), but it was postponed to June 25. Isner's doubles match was tentatively scheduled as the second match of that day on Court 19 following another men's doubles match; however, they withdrew from the doubles because Isner had a blister on his toe. After being eliminated from the tournament, Isner said, "I'll watch sports, I'll take in the World Cup, I'll go fishing, I'll do whatever. Just anything away from the tennis court."
As for Mahut, his doubles match with partner Arnaud Clément against Colin Fleming and Ken Skupski started late in the evening on June 24 (also on Court 18); the match was suspended after Mahut and Clément lost the first set. On June 25, Mahut/Clément – Fleming/Skupski was scheduled as the fourth match on Court 18 because Clément had a third-round singles match on Centre Court against Roger Federer. Because the match between Daniel Brands and Victor Hănescu lasted almost 3 hours, 30 minutes and ended around 8:45 pm local time, the doubles match was postponed again; it was re-scheduled as the first match on Court 14 on June 26. On resumption, Fleming/Skupski defeated Mahut/Clément, 7–6, 6–4, 3–6, 7–6.
The two next met at the 2011 Hopman Cup exhibition in Perth. Isner broke in the opening game to record a win in straight sets. They met again at the 2011 Wimbledon Championships, again in the first round; Isner won "Isner-Mahut II" in straight sets (7–6, 6–2, 7–6), in 2 hours and 3 minutes.
Former players and commentators have called the match historic and unlikely to happen again; many also praised both participants. John McEnroe said, "This is the greatest advertisement for our sport. It makes me proud to be a part of it. We often don't get the respect we deserve in tennis for the athletic demands it places on players, but this should push that respect way up".
Other players, former players, officials, media commentators and fans also praised the behaviour of both players. Roger Federer said of the match, "It's so impressive to see. I mean, I was watching this. I don't know if I was crying or laughing. It was too much". Federer also added, "This is absolutely amazing. [...] This is beyond anything". Novak Djokovic extolled both players, saying, "You have to give them credit, both of them. Whoever wins today, I think both of them are winners".
Sports Illustrated's Jon Wertheim said that the victory might give Isner a self-esteem boost. McEnroe speculated, however, that the match might have shortened Isner and Mahut's careers by six months. A sports surgeon said the players had risked dehydration, hyperthermia, and kidney damage during the long match, and that one or both might suffer "some sort of injury or persistent problem over the next six months [...] shoulder problems, tendonitis, and recurrent knee problems", as well as the inability to "get into a groove" mentally for up to a year.
The chorus of Dan Bern's song about the match concludes with the scores of the five sets: "six-four, three-six, six-seven, seven-six, seventy-sixtyeight". An a capella performance of "Isner & Mahut" recorded in 2010 appears on Bern's album Live in New York.
The match set nine tennis records:
- Longest match (11 hours, 5 minutes).
- Longest set (the fifth set required 8 hours, 11 minutes).
- Most games in a set (138 in the fifth set).
- Most games in a match (183).
- Most aces in a match by one player (Isner, 113).
- Total aces in a match (Mahut's 103 aces, the second highest number by a player in a match, brought the total to 216).
- Consecutive service games held (168: 84 for each player).
- Most games won by both winning player (92) and losing player (91) in a match.
- Most points won in a match (Mahut, 502).
The previous record for games played in a match was the 122-game 1973 Davis Cup match in which the United States team of Stan Smith and Erik Van Dillen defeated the Chile team of 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 the 112-game 1969 match in which Pancho Gonzales defeated Charlie Pasarell 22–24, 1–6, 16–14, 6–3, 11–9, also in the first round at Wimbledon. The singles record since the introduction of the tie-break was the 2003 Australian Open quarter-final match, in which Andy Roddick and Younes El Aynaoui played 83 games; Roddick won 4–6, 7–6(5), 4–6, 6–4, 21–19.
The previous official record for duration was set at the 2004 French Open when Fabrice Santoro defeated Arnaud Clément 6–4, 6–3, 6–7(5), 3–6, 16–14, in 6 hours, 33 minutes. The unofficial record of 6 hours, 40 minutes, was set on 25 February 2009, when Chris Eaton defeated James Ward 6–3, 6–2, 6–7(3), 2–6, 21–19 in a playoff match to represent the Great Britain Davis Cup team in a 2009 Davis Cup Europe/Africa Zone Group I second round tie versus Ukraine. Isner-Mahut's fifth set alone lasted some 90 minutes longer than the previous longest match. Indeed, even that portion of the fifth set played on the second day was about half an hour longer than the previous longest match, so it also broke the record for the longest play in a single day.
John Isner served his 79th ace to take the final set to 39–38 with serve. This surpassed Ivo Karlović's 78 aces that he served on 18 September 2009 in a Davis Cup match against Radek Štěpánek. In all, Isner served 113 aces; Mahut also surpassed the previous record with 103 aces.
The length of the match exceeded the total playing time of Serena Williams in every round combined in winning the previous year's Ladies Wimbledon title. She played for less than ten hours in the entire tournament.
In the United Kingdom, the match was featured live in part on BBC One, BBC Two and BBC HD, which were all the television channels which the BBC used to cover Wimbledon. The match was broadcast live in its entirety on the BBC Red Button.
Match statistics 
|John Isner (23)||6||3||67||77||70|
|Nicolas Mahut (Q)||4||6||79||63||68|
Session times 
- Tuesday 22 June 2010
- 6:13 pm – Match begins
- 9:07 pm – Match suspended at two sets all, with 174 minutes elapsed.
- Wednesday 23 June 2010
- 2:05 pm – Match resumes
- 5:45 pm – Match sets record for longest in history
- 9:10 pm – Match suspended a second time with the score tied at 59–59 in the fifth and deciding set; elapsed match time was exactly 10 hours.
- Thursday 24 June 2010
- 3:43 pm – Match continued on court 18.
- 4:48 pm – Match ended in favour of John Isner, who won the final set 70–68. The match lasted eleven hours and five minutes.
Detailed statistics 
- From Wimbledon's official website
|361 of 491 = 74%||1st serve %||328 of 489 = 67%|
|292 of 361 = 81%||Winning % on 1st serve||284 of 328 = 87%|
|82 of 130 = 63%||Winning % on 2nd serve||101 of 161 = 63%|
|104 of 489 = 21%||Receiving points won||117 of 491 = 24%|
|2 of 14 = 14%||Break point conversions||1 of 3 = 33%|
|97 of 144 = 67%||Net approaches||111 of 155 = 72%|
|143 mph||Fastest serve speed||128 mph|
|123 mph||Average 1st serve speed||118 mph|
|112 mph||Average 2nd serve speed||101 mph|
|Total points include double faults by the opponent. Unforced errors include double faults.|
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