Thursday, June 24, 2010

The match that never ends...

Were these the most evenly matched tennis players ever in the history of the sport?

After three days, the American, John Isner, finally managed to make it into round two of Wimbledon after outlasting the Frenchman, Nicolas Mahut, in a...well, the term 'marathon' doesn't even cover it. There were just three breaks of serve in the entire match; the first set, second set and, finally, the fifth set.

Now I'm sure you're thinking 'you mentioned three days, does that mean the match was affected by the weather?' and you'd be right. They did stop play due to that pesky thing called 'nightfall'...nothing to do with rain. The final score read 6-4, 3-6, 6-7, 7-6, 70-68 having started at 6:18pm on June 22 before ending at 4:49pm June 24, local time.

Allow me to provide some of the stats on the official Wimbledon site from this battle of wills:
Aces - 215 (103 for Mahut, 112 for Isner)
Points won - 980 (502 for Mahut, 478 to Isner)
Unforced errors - 112 (60 and 62...that is hugely impressive over such a long time)
Games played - 183
Match duration - 665 minutes (yes, that is over 11 hours of just playing time!)

It's not every day you see a scoreboard reading that...and it wasn't even over yet!

The final set finished (eventually!) 70-68 having been deadlocked overnight at 59 games apiece. Along the way, the duo set numerous record including longest ever match (smashing the paltry 6 hours 40 hour and a half shorter than the fifth set alone!), most number of aces by a player (previous was 78) and most number of games played (it was 112).

There was a rather funny moment when the scoreboard died, IBM saying it only went up to 47 but this was soon rectified...they might have been worried about needing triple digits! Serena Williams and Roger Federer were asked about the match during their press conferences, both just saying that; oh yes, they'd be pretty silly if they didn't know what was going on.

When the match ended, the two players as well as the chair umpire received special awards for their participation in this historic match. Isner was in fact scheduled to play in the doubles yesterday but, obviously, that match got rescheduled.

"It stinks someone had to lose," Isner said after the match, "but to share this day with (Mahut) was an absolute honour." He added, to a few laughs, that he hopes to play Mahut in the future and hopefully that match won't go quite as long.

I loathe to say it since you never know, but I doubt we'll see a match going longer than this one in our lifetime. It truly was one for the ages...epic by any standard you want to throw at it.


  1. Even in my best years of physical ability as a youth, I don't think I could match that.

    Driving a race car for three days. Only if it was air conditioned and had frequent potty stops.

  2. I only found out about at work yesterday during my lunchbreak...I thought it was a joke! Talk about endurance, absolutely mind-blowing.