Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Longest tennis match is history, finally

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WIMBLEDON -- John Isner won the longest match in tennis history Thursday, taking the fifth set against Nicolas Mahut 70-68 in an epic first-round struggle that stretched over three days and 11 hours.

The American closed out the victory with a backhand passing shot, then collapsed to his back as he tossed his racket in jubilation and relief.

The final score of the match read: 6-4, 3-6, 6-7 (7), 7-6 (3), 70-68.

"When you come out and play a match like this, in an atmosphere like this, you don't feel tired really out there," Isner said, "even though that's exactly what we both were."

The match totalled 183 games and lasted 11 hours five minutes over three days. The fifth set alone lasted eight hours 11 minutes. The match lasted so long it was suspended because of darkness two nights in a row. Play resumed Thursday at 59-all and continued for 20 games and 65 minutes before Isner won.

It was by far the longest match in the sport's history in terms of games or time. The previous longest match took six hours 33 minutes at the 2004 French Open.

"We played the greatest match ever in the greatest place to play tennis," Mahut said. "John deserved to win. He just served unbelievable."

Isner finished with 112 aces, and Mahut, of France, had 103, with both totals eclipsing the sport's previous high of 78. There were only three service breaks in the match, the last coming on the final point. They combined to hold for 168 games in a row.

"It stinks someone had to lose," Isner said. "But to be able to share this day with him was an absolute honour. I wish him nothing but the best, and maybe I'll see him somewhere down the road, and it won't go 70-68."

Top men's doubles seeds Daniel Nestor of Toronto and Nenad Zimonjic of Serbia had a long day on the court as well, needing five sets to defeat Jonathan Marray and Jamie Murray of Britain. Nestor and Zimonjic advanced with a 6-3, 6-7 (2), 7-6 (6), 6-7 (2), 15-13 win.

-- The Associated Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 25, 2010 C2

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