Until 2010, the record for longest match in professional tennis history was a first round match between Frenchmen Fabrice Santoro and Arnaud Clément at the French Open in 2004; Santoro eventually won 4-6, 3-6, 7-6, 6-3, 16-14 after six hours and 33 minutes. However, that record was beaten, hands down, by another first round match, between American John Isner and Frenchman Nicolas Mahuf at the Wimbledon Championships in 2010.
Played over three days on Court 18, the match lasted eleven hours and five minutes in total, with Isner eventually winning 6-4, 3-6, 6-7, 7-6, 70-68, making it the longest match both in terms of elapsed time and games played. In fact, the final set alone lasted eight hours and eleven minutes or, in other words, one hour and 38 minutes longer than the Santoro/Clément match. On the third day, played resumed in the fifth set at 59-59, to the amusement of the umpire and spectators, and continued until Isner broke serve in the 138th game to complete a remarkable victory. Both players were presented with crystal glasses and a commemorative plaque was erected courtside to mark their achievement.
In 2018, Isner was also involved in the second longest match in professional history, again at the Wimbledon Championships, where he eventually lost 6-7. 7-6, 7-6, 4-6, 24-26 to South African Kevin Anderson in a men’s singles sem-final lasting six hours and 35 minutes. The following October, the All England Lawn Tennis Club announced that, from 2019, tie-breaks would be played at 12-12 in the final set to prevent such marathon matches.
Watch Highlights of the Longest Tennis Match in History