john isner wimbledon 311.
(photo credit: Associated Press)
And then it was over.
After 11 hours and 5 minutes, under overcast skies and in front of 782 seated fans at Court 18, and many millions of viewers around the world, it suddenly ended.
Suddenly may seem like the wrong choice of words after a fifth set which lasted 491 minutes. But somehow there was a sense that the first-round Wimbledon encounter between John Isner and Nicolas Mahut was destined to go on forever.
It really was that surreal.
However, with one swift backhand winner, Isner completed a 6-4, 3-6, 6-7 (7), 7-6 (3), 70-68 victory over Mahut in what was quite probably the most remarkable tennis match ever played.
It seemed almost appropriate that there would be no loser, as was the case when the players left the court because of darkness tied at 2-sets all on Tuesday and at 59-59 in the fifth set on Wednesday.
Someone of course had to win, but both the American and the Frenchman share an equal responsibility for the ridiculously long marathon that holds a special significance as something that transcended tennis, and sports in general.
People who have absolute no interest in tennis, not even Grand Slam finals, were speaking about this match.
It doesn’t take a tennis expert to appreciate the rarity of the feat achieved by the previously unheralded Isner and Mahut, which is hardly surprising when you consider some players have claimed Grand Slam titles (all seven rounds) in less time than it took the two to finish one match.
“Nothing like this will happen again,” Isner said. “Not even come close.”
The mind-boggling statistics really do seem likely to remain in the record books for all eternity.
The second longest tennis match lasted more than four-and-a-half hours
less than the Isner-Mahut battle, whose fifth set alone took 8 hours
and 11 minutes.
The previous record for the most games played in a singles match, which
had stood for more than 40 years, was 112. Isner and Mahut exchanged
blows for 183.
The record for aces in a match stood before Wednesday at 78. Isner
obliterated that with 112, and Mahut finished not too far behind with
The 2010 Wimbledon championships will be remembered for two things –
the tournament winners and the historic tussle between Isner and Mahut.
The match may have finally ended at 4:47 p.m. local time, after three
days and more than 11 hours of play, but people will be speaking about
this one until the end of time.