FanDuel - WFBC

June 24, 2010

Isner Defeats Mahut in Longest Match in Tennis History: In the longest pro tennis match in history, American John Isner defeated Nicholas Mahut 70-68 at Wimbledon in the fifth set of their first-round match after eleven hours and five minutes of tennis. The match, suspended twice for darkness, began Tuesday. Wimbledon officials awarded the players and umpire a special honor after it ended and posed the players next to the scoreboard, a bit of extended pageantry that a crushed Mahut was kind to indulge.

posted by rcade to tennis at 12:31 PM - 49 comments

39-39. Closing in on 7 and a half hours for the match (now the longest in the history of tennis) and 4 and ahalf for the final set. 123 games so far. Isner leads the ace count 81 to 68.

posted by JJ at 01:38 PM on June 23

This is insane -- and the announcers must be tired. One of them just "hard and fast and deep" like he was thinking of his wife.

posted by wfrazerjr at 01:56 PM on June 23

41-41 in games. 82-68 in Aces to Isner.

They've had to repair the net.

posted by Mr Bismarck at 01:57 PM on June 23

49-49. One of the balls has gone missing. I think it's trying to seek political asylum somewhere.

posted by etagloh at 02:50 PM on June 23

There's something wrong about saying "50" in the context of tennis.

posted by jmd82 at 02:59 PM on June 23

I'm asking because I don't follow the sport. Is this good for tennis?

posted by cl at 03:04 PM on June 23

The Graun's MBM captures the absurdist Zombie Tennis nature of it all.

Is it good for tennis? Well, I'm watching it instead of the World Cup. The final set alone may outlast the longest previous Wimbledon match.

posted by etagloh at 03:17 PM on June 23

Thanks for the heads-up. Now listening on Radio Wimbledon.

posted by DrJohnEvans at 03:30 PM on June 23

If this were Olympic hockey, or World Cup soccer, they'd have gone to a shootout by now.

Tennis has it right.

Incredible.

posted by tommytrump at 03:44 PM on June 23

59-59, suspended for bad light.

Some people suggested moving the match to Centre Court to finish under the floodlights; I think the fairest thing is to give them a night's rest and possibly put them on Centre Court tomorrow. Though perhaps not: it'd be nice for the people who pay for the outer court tickets in the hope of seeing something special and unexpected to get the chance to see the end.

posted by etagloh at 04:15 PM on June 23

The match started on Court 18, it should finish on Court 18.

posted by tommytrump at 04:21 PM on June 23

Oh, wow. Amazing. I kept checking back throughout the day to see how it turned out. How incredibly strange to see that score. How these guys are still standing is beyond me. Their arms are going to fall off!

posted by Uncle Toby at 05:35 PM on June 23

Mahut beat England's Alex Bogdanovic 24-22 in the fifth set to qualify for the tournament.

Roger Federer came on court when the Mahut - Isner match was already up to 18-18 in the fifth set. Roger then won in four sets, left, showered, showed up for his post-match interview and then went home and they were still going.

I second etagloh's mention of the Grauniad's MBM - it's worth reading even now the game has surrendered for the night.

What's going on here? Once, long ago, I think that this was a tennis match. I believe it was part of a wider tennis tournament, somewhere in south-west London, and the winner of this match would then go on to face the winner of another match and, if he won that, the winner of another match. And so on until he reached the final and, fingers crossed, he won the title.

That, at least, is what this spectacle on Court 18 used to be; what it started out as. It's not that anymore and hasn't been for a few hours now. I'm not quite sure what it is, but it is long and it's horrifying and it's very long to boot. Is it death? I think it might be death.

...

It's 43-43 and John Isner is serving to make it 44-43, after which Nicolas Mahut will serve to make it 44-44. I'm indebted to the commenter who explained that Nicolas Mahut recently knocked the sensor of the net and that this is why the umpire climbed down off his chair and started slapping the cord with his hand, with his mouth hanging open and vomit all down the front of his shirt. For a moment I had hoped the slapping might have been his way of summoning the angel we've all been talking about, the one that will come down and usher the contestants up to their Eternal Rest. But no.

posted by Mr Bismarck at 05:52 PM on June 23

If this were Olympic hockey, or World Cup soccer, they'd have gone to a shootout by now.

Ah, but the NHL playoff would have kept going, damn the fading light (since it would be indoors).

posted by grum@work at 06:10 PM on June 23

Ah, but the NHL playoff would have kept going, damn the fading light (since it would be indoors).

Indeed, as it should be, though those NHL'ers would be playing for the ugliest trophy in sport. (sarcasm font)

posted by tommytrump at 06:14 PM on June 23

I was in the pub watching both football matches and following this on my phone. I was also updating some friends stuck in a field in Glastonbury with results (or the lack of them) from all three contests. I swear at one point I looked up from texting, grabbed a quick gulp of my Guinness and yelled over the noise of the TVs: "This is like sport porn! YES!!"

I think I need to stop working such long hours.

Reckon this one will probably end in about ten minutes tomorrow. They must both be in tatters. I didn't see it, but apparently Isner was not one bit happy about it all when he came off the court and has made comments to the effect of "this shouldn't be allowed to happen."

I sort of agree insofar as Mac's point is right that this has ruined the tournament for both of them in terms of progressing much further as they'll be too exhausted, but at the same time, there's something magical about it.

At 59-59, I think they've now played more games in the final set than there were in the whole of the previous longest Wimbledon match (which I think was 117 games long). Is that right?

posted by JJ at 07:11 PM on June 23

Groundhog Day?

59-59 is nothing short of insane. If it was the storyline in a movie, I wouldn't believe it. I would think the movie sucked and didn't know anything about tennis.

While their tournament might be over, I wouldn't call it ruined. Epic, more like it.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 07:19 PM on June 23

To be fair to Mac, I think what he actually said was that their tournament chances were gone, and I just mis-quoted him.

posted by JJ at 07:31 PM on June 23

"They gave a standing ovation when Isner, then Mahut, knocked up their half-centuries."

Yeah, this has gone about as long as a test cricket match.

Saw a shot of a crowd in front of a large screen, I guess near Centre Court, which fell into applause when the guys came back from their "bathroom break" about 9 p.m. (the referee should have thought about that 2 or 3 hours earlier).

BTW, what's more amazing is there's only been 81 unforced errors in the match. Maybe they were too tired to commit any.

posted by jjzucal at 08:23 PM on June 23

Their chances of progressing much further have probably gone down the lavvy. But they'll be remembered a lot longer than they would otherwise, since neither was likely to get very far past the weekend, had the draw kept them apart.

posted by etagloh at 08:50 PM on June 23

Isner's only two aces short of a century, and Mahut's only three or four behind that.

posted by boredom_08 at 09:30 PM on June 23

OK, so how long will they go tomorrow? I'll say 65-63, Mahut.

posted by jjzucal at 10:03 PM on June 23

Both will be relatively well-rested (as well rested as you can be having put in that kind of performance), but obviously they're fairly well matched as is. I think Mahut has greater stamina- Isner was conserving every ounce of energy and was practically immobile while Mahut was still diving- but Isner rested has a wicked serve. Tough call, but honestly I'd like to see it go a reasonably distance more (having it settled in 8 serves to start tomorrow would kind of suck after all this) such as another 10-12 games. I think mostly I'd like to see both pass 100 aces total, which requires a handful of games (Mahut's at like 94, Isner at 98). And I think I'm kinda rooting for Mahut; it'd be neat too if they both get over 100 aces but the guy with the most takes the loss.

Does anyone know when this one starts tomorrow- have they scheduled it yet? Here in PST I'll assume I'm getting up early if I want to watch this live.

posted by hincandenza at 10:41 PM on June 23

This is amazing - and what I think should be available in both American football and futbol, and every other sport. A match shouldn't be won in special "sudden death" rules. It should be won by the team who can outlast, not to the sudden death, but to the long, painful death.

posted by bobfoot at 12:39 AM on June 24

I agree- I've always disliked that about American football, and loved it about baseball: there's nothing like an 18-inning game for drama. This is great for tennis- it was a hot topic at work today, among people who like myself hardly ever mention the sport.

posted by hincandenza at 01:05 AM on June 24

This is one of those moments that transcends sports and competition. John Isner and Nicolas Mahut are sure to be lifelong friends after this is over.

Uhmmm, this is assuming it ever ends of course.

posted by NerfballPro at 07:23 AM on June 24

The match resumes today at 9:30 a.m. Eastern on ESPNU and (presumably) ESPN3.Com.

posted by rcade at 08:14 AM on June 24

The match resumes today at 9:30 a.m. Eastern on ESPNU and (presumably) ESPN3.Com.

According to the Wimbledon website, the earliest the match can begin on Court 18 is "not before 15:30", which would be 10:30am Eastern time in the USA.

posted by grum@work at 08:44 AM on June 24

A writer for the Oregonian believes this match is the death of tennis: "After all, it no longer matters whether Isner or Mahut win this first-round match. Whoever survives will be dead when he takes the court with his next opponent."

I think it's a great thing for tennis. I hope it goes on another 6-8 hours today.

posted by rcade at 09:14 AM on June 24

I hope it goes on another 6-8 hours today.

So far, that's not looking as unlikely as it should. 64-64 and so far they've had the grand total of 6 break points in the final set between them. Both past 100 aces now. Ten and a half hours for the match. Seven hours forty for the final set.

posted by JJ at 11:16 AM on June 24

It's over - Isner wins 70-68.

posted by DevilsAdvocate at 11:52 AM on June 24

If it was the storyline in a movie, I wouldn't believe it. I would think the movie sucked and didn't know anything about tennis.

I'm with you, Weedy. Truth is stranger than fiction. Incredible.

posted by apthomason at 01:46 PM on June 24

I like how this played out, and it will be a staple of ESPN/SI/blog features on "unbreakable records" for a long, long time.

But I also like sudden-death situations, especially in American football. I love the tension of knowing with absolute certainty that it will not keep going on, that it will end, and the players have to perform NOW. In college football, when you team's season is on the line, it can drive the excitement in a stadium to an incredible pitch.

posted by Uncle Toby at 02:02 PM on June 24

There better be no talk about fifth-set tiebreaks after this match. This is what makes Wimbledon and the French Open special.

posted by jjzucal at 02:03 PM on June 24

I'm just glad neither competitor took the first two games played today - that would have been a major disappointment, and led to speculation that they should have moved to centre court last night to finish it out under the lights.

That they went another 20 games (which is more games than are required to complete a three set match in and of itself) is amazing, and incredible, and insane.

posted by MW12 at 02:15 PM on June 24

The names Isner and Mahut will sound good together over the years, like Leopold and Loeb or Sacco and Vanzetti. As I think more about the match, I believe the biggest feat of all is Mahut surviving 65 games in which he had to hold serve to stay alive. 65 games!

posted by rcade at 02:20 PM on June 24

Are Jordan Leopold and Lisa Loeb dating? How cute!

posted by wfrazerjr at 02:21 PM on June 24

The names Isner and Mahut will sound good together over the years, like Leopold and Loeb or Sacco and Vanzetti.

Yikes.

Surely there were less notorious names for comparison?

Hall & Oates?
Pinky & The Brain?
Crocket & Tubbs?

posted by grum@work at 03:09 PM on June 24

Stats:

There were 183 games in the match, with Isner winning 92 of them. That's more than the equivalent of 14 full sets of tie-breakers (7-6).

The final set was the equivalent of two full tie-breaker (7-6) 5-set matches at the US Open, plus another 6-2 set.

The International Space Station was able to orbit the earth more than 5 times during the playing of the final set (game action only).

posted by grum@work at 03:27 PM on June 24

Does this mean Mahut served to stay in the match more than 60 times?

posted by Mr Bismarck at 03:31 PM on June 24

The Isner-Mahut match will be remembered for Wimbledon 2010 long after people forget who won the tournament that year.

Like Galarraga's perfect game that wasn't. It was the circumstances that made it memorable.

posted by roberts at 04:01 PM on June 24

Does this mean Mahut served to stay in the match more than 60 times?

Yes. He served to save the match 64 times, and was successful 63 times.

This match reminds me of two different sports stories:

"The Long Walk" - by Richard Bachman (aka Stephen King)
One of my favourite short stories, it tells the tale of a harrowing "sport" of long walking, where everyone but the winner is killed in the process.

"The Iowa Baseball Confederacy" - by W.P. Kinsella
An interesting short story about a legendary baseball game that may (or may not) have gone 2,000 innings.

posted by grum@work at 04:26 PM on June 24

11 hours, 5 minutes -- 5 soccer matches, 4 of them going to extra time (about 2:20 in real time), 1 in regulation (about 1:45 in real time).

If I were one of them, I'd walk out with my dominant arm in a sling -- just so I wouldn't need to sign autographs.

Isner's next opponent went 16-14 in the fifth. Sounds like a walk in the park.

posted by jjzucal at 08:59 PM on June 24

11 hours, 5 minutes -- 5 soccer matches, 4 of them going to extra time (about 2:20 in real time), 1 in regulation (about 1:45 in real time).

And from start of play on Day 1 to half way through the last session on Day 2 for a Test cricket match. Still another 3 days and 55 minutes to go, chaps...

posted by owlhouse at 10:02 PM on June 24

like Leopold and Loeb or Sacco and Vanzetti

Odd analogy, but also striking my coincidence radar. I just read (last week) Jailbird by Kurt Vonnegut, in which he spends a good five pages recounting the story of Sacco and Vanzetti. Without having done so, I would never have spotted your analogy as... odd.

I'm slightly concerned by some of the headlines this morning in the British press that seem to be conflating "longest" with "greatest" when desciribing this match. As a thing, it was great, but as a tennis match, I wouldn't want to watch it again.

posted by JJ at 05:38 AM on June 25

The names Isner and Mahut will sound good together over the years, like Leopold and Loeb or Sacco and Vanzetti.

I also thought of their names being forever linked, but like others have mentioned previously, not in the same vein as L&L or S&V.

I was thinking more along the lines of Mallory and Irvine.

Although that still falls into the category of people who perished in the process of having their names linked, which is not entirely appropriate.

I just wish that Isner and Mahut had stopped shaving before the match so they could have grown full playoff beards.

posted by beaverboard at 08:37 AM on June 25

Isner lost his second-round match 6-0, 6-3, 6-2 to unseeded opponent Thiemo de Bakker. He had no aces in the entire match.

posted by rcade at 09:46 AM on June 25

If I were one of them, I'd walk out with my dominant arm in a sling -- just so I wouldn't need to sign autographs.

IIRC Isner had a doubles match scheduled to start 20 minutes after this one finally ended.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 09:56 AM on June 25

Isner lost his second-round match 6-0, 6-3, 6-2 to unseeded opponent Thiemo de Bakker. He had no aces in the entire match.

74 minutes -- seem like a bunch of game won at love.

I have an idea for ESPN Classic: how about replaying the full match as a mini-series? Five nights, three hours each night; or at the very least, three nights, three hours for the fifth set. That would allow for plenty of commercials.

posted by jjzucal at 01:42 PM on June 25

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