After three long hot Wimbledon days, John Isner came off victorious over Nicolas Mahut, but both men were rightly proud at the end of the longest ever game of tennis. The American lifted this second round match three sets to two in the following remarkable manner: 6-4 3-6 6-7 (7-9) 7-6 (7-3) 70-68.
The score reads like a joke, or a work of childish fiction, but there was nothing childish about the way these two players served – over and over again – in their 11 hour epic.
Both players faced, and saved, break and match points last night in a fierce battle of wills and endurance that tennis fans will probably never see again.
Mahut knew he had been part of history when he came off, beaten, if only just:
At this moment I’m just really thankful. It was amazing today.
Isner’s serve is a weapon that is hard to overcome – as Mahut learned in 70 consecutive games in the final set – the longest in history by some distance. Importantly, on grass, it is a tool that, if he can recover from this marathon battle, he can used to go deep into this tournament with the air of invincibility he must carry forward from this phenomenal match.
Wimbledon 2010 is proving to be a record breaking vintage, as this match provided the longest match in time, the longest set in time, the most games in a set, the most games in a match, the most aces in a match, the most aces by one player in a match (Isner struck 112 aces to Mahut’s 103). Yesterday Taylor Dent, also of USA, broke the fastest serve record – 148 MPH – twice.
Credit both players – this match out on court 18 was truly magnificent grass court tennis.