In theory, a tennis match could go on forever given two factors: 1) the need to be one game ahead of the opponent in the fifth set of 3 of the 4 grand slam tournaments in order to win the match, from 6-4 onwards; 2) and the massive advantage held by the server in professional tennis. Matches could also go on in practise for what seemed like forever - here are 4 of the longest of such in the ATP world.
McEnroe - Wilander (Davis Cup 1982) 6 h 22
I remember this match for being the one in which most of the crowd left for dinner halfway through because they thought the match would still be ongoing by the time they arrive back. “I remember thinking near the end ‘If this match is so great, why are most of the people gone?" were the exact words of McEnroe on this.
Santoro - Clement (French Open 2004) 6 h 33
It was a beautiful match. It was a great match on a great court in Paris with probably the best crowd ever for us. But quite aside from the record, I'm happy to know that at the age I've reached I can still play tennis for six hours. - Fabio Santoro
With this match Santoro and Clement broke the existing French Open record by a whooping 62 minutes. When you pit two dirtballers together, you naturally get a long match going, but rarely this long. By dirtballers I mean that these two players like to prolong rallies and frustrate opponents with a variety of moonballs. This impressive feat did not come free of consequence though, for in the final game, Santoro admitted he had difficulty breathing.
Mayer - Souza (Davis Cup 2015) 6 h 43
In this match the last set of which lasted for 2 hours 20 mins on its own, Argentinian Davis Cup hopes were maintained in this first round match against Brazil. But imagine the pain Mayer had to go through and the extent of joy that he must have felt at match's end - 6 hours and 43 minutes! This is the second longest match in professional tennis and the longest Davis Cup match!
Isner - Mahut (Wimbledon 2010) 11 h 05
You must have been waiting for this one. This is the match of matches on this list. This was the match that brought these two hitherto unknowns into the spotlight. Isner was kind of well known before this, but only to Americans and even then he was not significantly focused given the existence of more luminary contemporaneous professional tennis compatriots of his such as Andy Roddick and Sam Querrey. For Mahut, that was perhaps the first time anyone remembered they saw him. But played 11 hours 5 minutes of tennis they did, and that was all that mattered. How did this match get drawn out so long? We look at a revealing pair of match statistics to find out: throughout the 183 games played throughout the match, there were only 3 breaks of serves!
Now let's look at some match statistics which just shows how amazing this match was:
11 hours, 4 minutes of play-time: Total match time. That’s 4 hours and 2 minutes more than the second-longest tennis match (doubles or singles), a Davis Cup doubles rubber between the Czech Republic and Switzerland in 2013.
8 hours, 11 minutes was spent on the fifth set alone: To put things in a more universal perspective, the longest baseball game ever played in history was eight hours and six minutes!
215 aces hit during the match: Isner 112, Mahut 103. The previous record was 78 by Ivo Karlovic.
Rovo is an app that connects you with other sports players nearby. It takes the hassle out of coordinating timings and matching others of the same skill level so you can #playmore!
Get the latest versions of the app here