What is the longest tennis match ever played?

The longest tennis match in history featured John Isner from the United States and Nicolas Mahut from France in a first-round match at the 2010 Wimbledon men’s singles tournament. John Isner won this mega marathon of 11 hours and 5 minutes and took 3 days to complete. The score was 6-4; 3-6; 6-7; 7-6; 70-68.

The players completed the 1st 4 sets on day 1 but the play halted due to a lack of natural light. On the second day of match play, the scoreboard stopped working at 47 to 47 in the 5th set. It appears it was not programmed to go so high, so play was halted once again. The match resumed on the 3rd day and John Isner finally won 70 to 68.

But get this – the final set alone went for 8 hours and 11 minutes. This was far longer than the previous one which had lasted for 6 hours and 33 minutes. All previous world records were ground into dust. In total John served 112 aces while Nicolas fired 103. 112 aces equates to 28 games.

John Isner Is a Magnet for Long Tennis Matches

But John Isner doesn’t stop there. During his 2018 Wimbledon Semifinal match, Isner faced off against Kevin Anderson, and this was another extremely long 5 set match. While this match lasted 6 hours and 36 minutes, Isner failed to come out on top, as Anderson won the final set 26-24, and advanced to the Wimbledon Final. After this match, the All England Club would finally change their tie-breaker ruling, now allowing a tie-breaker set if the 5th set reaches 12 games each.

Why do tennis matches last so long?

With the Isner marathon match in view, it’s apparent that tennis matches can last a really long time! But why? For more information about this, check out our article: How long are tennis matches?

Longest Women’s Tennis Match of All Time

While no match compares to the Isner-Mahut marathon, a 1984 match between Vicki Nelson and Jean Hepner, both from the United States, comes in at a close second. Instead of the best 3 out of 5 sets for the men, the women play the best 2 out of 3 sets. While only needing only 2 sets to win, in the first round at the Central Fidelity Banks International, it took Vicki Nelson 6 hours and 31 minutes to do it.

The score was 6-4; 7-6 (13-11). But how did just 2 sets last over 6 hours long you are probably wondering? I know I did. These 2 ladies had many incredibly long rallies. 29 of those minutes came in ONE single rally, which had 643 shots and Nelson was the victor. I can’t come close to comprehending such masterful will and consistency.

wimbledon longest match plaque
Photo: Jonotennis

Final Thoughts About The Longest Tennis Matches

We have looked at the longest tennis matches in history, as well as the Wimbledon tournament’s rule change because of Isner’s many long matches. While Isner may not have always come out on top, he has left his mark on the tennis world – and especially on the Wimbledon tournament.

So overall, these extremely long tennis matches are definitely quite something to see. It’s amazing how much endurance and determination these athletes have to keep playing and fighting until the very end.

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