After three days, 11 hours and 5 minutes, John Isner finally defeated Nicolas Mahut at Wimbledon in the longest match in tennis history.
The 25-year-old American outlasted Mahut 4-6, 6-3, 7-6(7), 6-7(3), 70-68 in the first-round match Thursday. The match kept viewers glued to their TV screens since the historic fifth set continued with seemingly no end in sight Wednesday. It was suspended twice due to darkness — first on Tuesday night after four sets, and the second time Wednesday night at 59-all in the fifth set after 7 hours, 6 minutes of play during the day.
Play resumed Thursday at 3:43 p.m. local time Thursday and ended an hour and five minutes later when Isner hit a backhand passing shot down the line.
The previous record for the longest match was 6 hours, 33 minutes, set at the 2004 French Open between Fabrice Santoro and Arnaud Clement. Isner and Mahut's fifth set alone lasted 8 hours, 11 minutes.
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After finally converting on his fifth match point, Isner fell on his back before running to the net for a long embrace with Mahut while the packed Court 18 crowd gave them a lengthy standing ovation.
"Got a little bit tired but when you come and play a match with an atmosphere like this you don't feel tired," Isner said on the court afterward. "This crowd was fantastic. [Mahut's] an absolute warrior. It stinks someone has to lose. To share this day with him was an absolute honor. ... Maybe I'll see him somewhere down the road and we won't go 70-68."
Mahut, a 28-year-old Frenchman, thanked the crowd as well and said Isner deserved to win. "He just served unbelievably. It was an honor to play," Mahut said. "We played the greatest match ever in the greatest place to play tennis."
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The players and the umpire, Mohamed Lahyani, were also given mementos by the All England Club on-court in recognition of the match, which shattered nearly every tennis record.
Isner fired 112 aces and Mahut 103, easily erasing the previous record of 78 by Ivo Karlovic in a 2009 Davis Cup match.
The match also set records for the most games in a set (138) and the most games in a match (183).
Isner will next face Dutchman Thiemo de Bakker, who won his first-round match Wednesday over Colombian Santiago Giraldo in his own mini-epic five-setter 6-7(4), 6-4, 6-3, 5-7, 16-14.