Tennis matches usually last between two and three hours, but there may be exceptions. In fact, there are games of up to almost eleven hours. We will see, below, which were the longest tennis matches in history.
Over the past few years, the level of players has improved, which makes it less surprising to watch six hours start. Also, there are enough draws on the pitch, so it’s not uncommon to see matches that go on longer than they should.
The longest tennis matches of the 20th century
One of the most emblematic matches was the one played at Wimbledon in 1969, between the Americans Pancho Gonzales and Charles Pasarel. During this meeting a total of 112 bars was reached; Gonzales lost the first two sets, still managing to beat his rival.
Shortly after, tie breaks would be introduced (advantage on parity), to prevent the sets from being prolonged in the event of a 6 to 6 tie.
In 1982, John McEnroe managed to beat Mats Wilander – a 17-year-old young man who had just won the Open Roland Garros – in the Davis Cup final in no less than 6 hours and 22 minutes. With this victory he set a record in this championship, playing and winning the 12 games played.
And of the 21st century
The French Arnaud Clement and Fabrice Santoro set the record for the longest game in a Grand Slam of the Open tournament in 2004: 6 hours and 33 minutes.
The match ended with Santoro’s victory, it started on Monday but was suspended due to the light, right in the middle of a 5-5, in the fifth set .
In 2005, during the Tennis Masters Cup final, Argentina’s David Nalbandian and Switzerland’s Roger Federer played for four and a half hours. Finally, the Argentine took the title, interrupting the wave of victories of the Swiss, who had won 24 consecutive finals.
A year later, in 2006, another of the longest tennis matches took place. To face off, the couples Knowles-Nestor and Aspelin-Perry, at Wimbledon. The match lasted 6 hours and 9 minutes and took place over two days due to the lack of light and with a 23-21 in the final set .
More recently, in 2009, the British team decided that their players should compete against each other to decide who would play the preliminary round against Ukraine in the Davis Cup.
It all went wrong because Chris Eaton took 6 hours and 40 minutes to beat his teammate; as a result, both of them got tired in the elimination round and Ukraine won with an overwhelming four to one.
This same year, Radek Stepanek played in the Davis Cup semifinal against Ivo Karlovic in a match that lasted 5 hours and 59 minutes. During the match there were four tie breaks and the match was decided by a 16-14 in the last set , in favor of the Czech Radek Stepanek.
The most important datum of the match was Karlovic’s 78 “ aces ” which, however, were not enough to get the victory, but they were enough to make him conquer the world record.
The unsurpassed record
In 2010, John Isner set the record for the longest game in tennis history, beating Nicolas Mahut in an 11 hours and 5 minutes match at Wimbledon.
The game was played over three days, of which the second was the longest as seven hours of games were played without a break. The final set ended with a 70-68 in favor of the American. In addition to the time record, the challengers scored others, such as:
- Most aces in a game: 216.
- The longest set , with 8 hours and 11 minutes.
- Most points in a game: 980.
- Most points scored by a player in a single game: 502. Also, this number was scored by Mahum, who lost the game.
In recent years, one of the longest games in history was played in 2015, in the Davis Cup, between Leonardo Mayer and Joao Souza. The match lasted 6 hours and 43 minutes, with a result of 15-13 in the last set .
For players, playing these games requires a lot of physical and mental effort. This is because the championships usually take place in a short time and bring with them the fatigue accumulated by the previous tournament matches, played just two or three days before.
However, for lovers of this sport it is a pleasure to watch the longest tennis matches, and this is because they see the best points scored by their idols.