Isner, Mahut set marathon records at Wimbledon
WIMBLEDON, ENGLAND -- On and on and on, and on some more, they played -- longer than anyone ever had before. And still there was no winner.
American John Isner and Nicolas Mahut of France were tied at 59-59 in the fifth set at Wimbledon after exactly 10 hours of action when play was suspended because of darkness Wednesday night. It is by far the longest match in terms of games or time in the century-plus history of tennis.
"Nothing like this will ever happen again. Ever," Isner said.
The first-round match already had been suspended because of fading light Tuesday night after the fourth set.
The 23rd-seeded Isner and the 148th-ranked Mahut, who needed to qualify to get into the tournament, shared a court for 7 hours 6 minutes in Wednesday's fifth set alone, enough to break the full-match record of 6:33, set at the 2004 French Open.
Never before in the history of Wimbledon, which first was contested in 1877, had any match -- singles or doubles, men or women -- lasted more than 112 games, a mark set in 1969. Isner and Mahut played more games than that in just the fifth set, and still did not determine a victor, although the American came close: He had four match points, but Mahut saved each one.
"He's serving fantastic. I'm serving fantastic. That's really all there is to it," Isner said.
Isner hit 98 aces, Mahut 95 -- both eclipsing the previous high of 78 in a match at any tournament. All the numbers were truly astounding: They played 881 points (Mahut took 452, Isner 429), 612 in the fifth set (315 for Mahut, 297 for Isner).
Isner compiled 218 winners, Mahut 217. Isner made only 44 unforced errors, Mahut 37.
There were zero service breaks in the fifth set, which is why the end never arrived Wednesday.
Even a courtside electronic scoreboard couldn't keep up, getting stuck at 47-47 when the score really had risen to 48-48, then eventually going dark entirely.
Yet the pair played on, and they still are not finished. After 118 games, no one had won.