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Scoreboards: WTA ATP | Schedules: WTA ATP | Rankings: WTA ATP

Isner finally tops Mahut in marathon Wimbledon match

John Isner falls to the grass after beating Nicolas Mahut in a match that shattered numerous all-time tennis records for length of play.
John Isner falls to the grass after beating Nicolas Mahut in a match that shattered numerous all-time tennis records for length of play. (Glyn Kirk/afp Via Getty Images)
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By Steven Wine
Associated Press
Friday, June 25, 2010

WIMBLEDON, ENGLAND -- When John Isner finally won the longest match in tennis history, he collapsed on the Wimbledon grass and then summoned one last burst of energy, springing to his feet to give his opponent a bear hug.

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Isner hit a backhand up the line Thursday to win the last of the match's 980 points, and he beat Nicolas Mahut in the fifth set, 70-68.

The first-round marathon took 11 hours and 5 minutes over three days, lasting so long it was suspended because of darkness -- two nights in a row. Play resumed Thursday at 59-all before an overflow crowd on cozy Court 18 and continued for 20 games and 65 minutes before Isner won.

The score that broke the scoreboard at one point: 6-4, 3-6, 6-7 (9-7), 7-6 (7-3), 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 lasted so long because neither player could break serve. Isner finished with 112 aces and Mahut had 103, with both totals eclipsing the sport's previous high of 78. 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 honor. I wish him nothing but the best, and maybe I'll see him somewhere down the road, and it won't go 70-68."

Missing the finish was Queen Elizabeth II, who had already departed the All England club following her first visit to Wimbledon since 1977. She watched Briton Andy Murray win his match on Centre Court.

Top-ranked Rafael Nadal rallied in the second round to beat Robin Haase, 5-7, 6-2, 3-6, 6-0, 6-3. Nadal won all 20 points on his serve in the final set.

Other winners included Maria Sharapova, Caroline Wozniacki and Robin Soderling. But those results -- and even the queen's visit -- were overshadowed by a match that was by far the longest in the sport's history in terms of games and time.

The fifth set alone took 8 hours 11 minutes, surpassing the previous longest match, which took 6:33 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."

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