John Isner, Nicolas Mahut, And Their Epic, Deathless Match at Wimbledon

Now updated through end of match.

No words can live up to the spectacle that was the more than seven hours of tennis that John Isner and Nicolas Mahut played at Wimbledon on Wednesday, or the 11 hours and six minutes it took Isner to win.

The closest words come is the delightfully insane live blog The Guardian's Xan Brooks kept. And they're less record of the match and more a report from within an asylum:

⇥8.05pm: In the stands, a woman is laughing. She laughs long and hard and her laugh is the sort of ghastly yodel you normally hear in antique horror movies about Victorian insane asylums. "Wa-la-ha-la-wah," she goes. "Wa-la-ha-la-ha-la!" Will nobody drag her out? Call in the goons in white coats. Get this woman to a lobotomy!⇥⇥⇥⇥⇥⇥

⇥Mahut is serving to make it 51-51. Wouldn't you know it, he does. He makes it to 51-51, finishing up with an ace.⇥⇥⇥⇥⇥⇥

I honestly cannot touch anything Brooks wrote in that live blog from about 3:45 p.m. on. It's genius-level work and must-read stuff. So I'll try numbers instead.

6-4, 3-6, 7-6, 6-7, 70-68: The score of the match, from Isner's perspective. That second set loss featured the only break point Isner faced in the first four sets of the match, and the only one he lost all match. He would not face another until a double break point at 50-50 in the fifth set, which he erased with four straight points, including a 134 mph ace.

98: Number of aces by Isner through suspension of play on Wednesday. (Number of Isner double faults through Wednesday: 9. Number of Isner double faults to begin play on Thursday: 1.)

112: Number of aces by Isner in match.

103: Number of aces by Mahut in match.

84: Number of aces by Isner in fifth set.

68: Number of aces by Mahut in fifth set.

78: Number of aces by Ivo Karlovic in a match in 2007, the previous record.

112: Number of games in the previous longest tennis match, by games, in history.

118: Number of games in the fifth set of Isner-Mahut through suspension of play on Wednesday.

138: Number of games in entire fifth set.

163: Number of games in the match through suspension of play on Wednesday.

183: Number of games in entire match.

502: Points won by Mahut in match.

478: Points won by Isner in match.

365: Points won by Mahut in fifth set.

346: Points won by Isner in fifth set.

72: Minimum number of points needed to win men's match in three straight love sets at Wimbledon.

61: Time, in minutes, of the first two sets combined. The match was halted Tuesday night because of poor light conditions.

2:15 p.m.: British local time at first mention of Isner-Mahut in Guardian live blog on Wednesday.

9:10 p.m.: British local time at mention of last point played in Isner-Mahut in Guardian live blog, before play was halted for lack of light.

6:55: Time elapsed between those two times. (In minutes: 415.)

7:06: Actual time of fifth set as played on Wednesday. (In minutes: 426.)

8:11: Full length of fifth set, between Wednesday and Thursday. (In minutes: 491.)

11:05: Duration of match.

6:40: Duration of previous longest tennis match.

3:54: Duration of Gone With the Wind, longest Best Picture winner. You could have watched it and Titanic in just two minutes more than Isner-Mahut took.

3: Number of World Cup matches played in their entirety during Isner-Mahut. Germany-Ghana was almost in stoppage time when play was suspended.

2: Times Mahut dove, throwing his racquet, for points more than 80 games into the fifth set.

1: Number of Wikipedia pages devoted to the match. (2: Number of distinct URLs for that page.)

0: Number of times I thought to myself, in the fifth set: "Wow, this is really scintillating, back-and-forth tennis!" (The fifth set was more often an exercise in brilliant, one-sided offense, Isner booming serves that Mahut could not handle, and Mahut's conditioning allowing him to sting backhands and slap forehands just past the statuesque Isner's reach.)

2: Number of consecutive games one player will have to win on Thursday to write the ending to this deathless match. I won't say will. That connotes hope.


1: Number of backhand passing winners Isner hit at match point in the 138th game of the fifth set. (Note: If you can hit a backhand passing winner after playing 11 hours of tennis, I envy you.)

1: Number of times, after the match ended on Thursday, that Isner told reporters he was "a little bit tired."


This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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