American Finally Wins 11-Hour Tennis Marathon

American bests Frenchman after 11 hours, five minutes

By Greg Wilson
|  Thursday, Jun 24, 2010  |  Updated 9:45 AM PDT
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John Isner of the US reacts as he defeats France's Nicolas Mahut, in their epic men's singles match at the All England Lawn Tennis Championships at Wimbledon, Thursday, June 24, 2010. (AP Photo/Suzanne Plunkett, pool)

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Eleven hours and five minutes, spread out over three days, finally produced a winner in what was by far the longest pro tennis match ever.

John Isner defeated Frenchman Nicolas Mahut in the fifth set, 70-68 to close out the record-setting first round match at Wimbledon. After smashing a backhand past his opponent, Isner collapsed on the storied grass court in exhaustion.

The match was suspended twice due to darkness, and the fifth set alone lasted more than eight hours. Play resumed Thursday morning with the score tied at 59.

"I'm a little haggard," Isner said before completing the match. "I have no skin on my pinkie toes."

Isner finished with 112 aces and Mahut 103. After winning, the 6-foot-9 Isner embraced his vanquished opponent at midcourt.

The grueling duel has already taken its place in tennnis lore, with the sports veterans marveling at the endurance shown by Mahut and Isner.

“This is the greatest advertisement for our sport," John McEnroe told the BBC. "It makes me proud to be a part of it. We often don’t get the respect we deserve in tennis for the athletic demands it places on players but this should push that respect way up.”

The old record for the longest fifth set was 21-19, when Andy Roddic beat Younes El Aynaoui at the 2003 Austrailian Open. John Newcombe won a fourth set aganist Marty Riessen by a 25-23  at the 1969 U.S. Open.

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