The Never-Ending Tennis Match

Now, I’m old enough to remember tennis before the Williams sisters began to dominate the women’s game. I’m old enough to remember Andre Agassi’s shockingly long hair and cycle shorts (shocking for tennis anyway). Hell, I’m even old enough to remember John McEnroe’s on-court tantrums.

But, in all my years of watching Wimbledon, I can’t remember anything like the epic first round match between America’s John Isner and the Frenchman Nicolas Mahut, which goes into its third day this afternoon. This seemingly never-ending match has been absolutely compelling viewing, and is breaking tennis records left, right and centre.

As of close of play last night, these were the record stats:

– Longest match in tennis history at 10 hours (the previous longest was 6 hours 33 minutes in the 2004 French Open)

– Most games at 163 (beating the record of 112 that has stood since Wimbledon 1969), with 118 of those in the fifth set so far.

– Longest final set at 7 hours 6 minutes, as of last night (this is already longer than the previous longest MATCH in its entirety!)

– Most aces served in one match and most aces served by one player (98 by Isner, closely followed by Mahut on 94).

– Both players have won only a single break point each, out of 877 total points played so far.

– Each player has burned approximately 6,900 calories so far (over three times the recommended calorie intake per day)

– Isner and Mahut even managed to break the scoreboard on court 18 and the Wimbledon website – the score was 59-59 and the board couldn’t cope with such unheard-of numbers (incidentally, I rather liked Charlie Brooker’s suggestion on Twitter that if they hit 60-all they should each take a shot of tequila before each serve!).

– The players must be exhausted, but it’s the BBC commentator Ronald McIntosh I really feel for. This epic match on court 18 was supposed to be a nice gentle one to ease McIntosh into his first ever TV commentary… but nobody could have predicted these events! Talk about a baptism of fire…

There are bound to be more unbelievable stats before the match finally ends – stay tuned for more slightly gobsmacking updates!

UPDATE: 16.51 – The match has finally ended! The eventual winner was John Isner, who won the final set 70-68 after a match that lasted eleven hours and five minutes and involved each player serving more than 100 aces. The All-England Club have given a special award to both players and to the umpire Mohamed Lahyani, in recognition of this remarkable match – and quite right too…

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