The Wimbledon Marathon

Aswath BCorrespondent IJune 24, 2010

LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 24:  John Isner of USA (L) poses after winning on the third day of his first round match against Nicolas Mahut of France (C) with Chair Umpire Mohamed Lahyani on Day Four of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on June 24, 2010 in London, England. The match is the longest in Grand Slam history.  (Photo by Alastair Grant-Pool/Getty Images)
Pool/Getty Images

How would one describe a 183 game thriller? You can keep looking for answers, but you will find it extremely hard to find one. I will try getting close with this reflection.

Court no. 18 at Wimbledon has written itself into the history books for playing its part in the 665 minute marathon between Nicolas Mahut and John Isner. Forget the result. This match is way beyond that. No one deserved to lose, however, sport is cruel sometimes.

The first four sets lasted 32, 29, 49 and 64 minutes respectively. Even before his second round match on Court no. 1, Roger Federer was engrossed in this wonderful battle. He went to play his match at 11-11 in the 5th set of the Mahut vs Isner game. He completed his match in 4 sets and 166 minutes. When he got back to his locker room, he was in for a big surprise. The Mahut vs Isner game was still not finished!

Isner had a match point at 9-10 in the final set but could not convert. He had a couple more at 32-33 but Mahut saved both of them. Mahut could not take advantage of two break points that were on offer in game 101 in the final set, and 17 games later, Isner had another match point. Mahut’s answer, an Ace! With the match in the balance at 59 games all in the final set, Mahut suggested they continue the next day. Isner, wanted to play on. The referee seemed more tired than the players and deemed the light unfit, for the match to continue. The match had clocked 10 hours on the dot when this happened.

The match went into a third day, and nothing changed. Both players kept serving ace after ace and kept holding their serves and nerves. Isner’s ace tally for the match stood at 112 as against Mahut’s 103. With the score board rolling along like an Indian taxi meter, one had no choice but to wait until the destination, but here, no one knew where they were going.

Finally, the moment came. At 68-69 in the final set and the game score at 30-40, Mahut was serving down a match point. Isner would not miss this time. A super backhand sealed the match for the American, who was able to convert his fifth match point. The scoreboard read: 6-4, 3-6, 6-7 (7-9), 7-6 (7-3), 70-68.

Credit to both the players for the stamina and the mental strength they exhibited. This match had everything. It was a delight for both the spectators and statisticians alike. The longest game in tennis history – Nicolas Mahut Vs John Isner – Thanks players for the entertainment!