These encounters went beyond six hours.
Tennis is not an easy game. It is a battle of skill, technique and precision. The match goes on till one player wins a required number of points or a player gives up or retires in the middle of the court unable to carry on with an injury or fatigue.
This is exactly why matches played over a long duration have such an appeal. It keeps the spectators on the edge of their seats. This is exactly what we saw on January 30, 2022 when one of the all-time greats Rafael Nadal defeated Daniil Medvedev at the Australian Open 2022. The Spaniard won the final that lasted for 5 hours and 24 minutes. It also made Nadal the first tennis player to win 21 Grand Slam titles, surpassing the likes of Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic.
In spite of this, the match doesn’t even come close to the longest matches played in tennis history. Here are the top five tennis encounters that lasted for more than six hours.
5. Fabrice Santoro Vs Arnaud Clement (2004 French Open, 6 hours and 33 minutes)
The meeting between two Frenchmen Fabrice Santoro and Arnaud Clement in the first round of the French Open in 2004 produced a classic. Unseeded Santoro met 32nd seed Arnaud Clement in a match that continued for more than six hours. The duration of the game was so long that it went on for two days. The back and forth entertainer also saw Santoro saving two match points in the process.
The match was both physical and psychological. On top of it, the match also had a lot of bad blood to add to its backstory. Apparently Santoro had been dropped off the French Davis Cup team the same year by captain Guy Forget. This led to a controversy within the French tennis fraternity and things were on edge between the players. Fabrice came on the court as if he had a point to prove.
Taking the first two sets, Santoro sealed it off in the fifth and final set. The match ended 6-4,6-3,6-7,3-6 ,16-14. Santoro collapsing on court after hitting a backhand winner past Clement truly showed his raw emotions after the match.
Also Read: What makes Novak Djokovic one of the greats of all time?
4. Kevin Anderson Vs John Isner (2018 Wimbledon, 6 hours 36 minutes)
The men’s Wimbledon in 2018 saw two classic semi-final matches. While one was between Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, another saw Kevin Anderson clash with John Isner. Though all eyes were on the former, it was the latter which truly stole the spotlight.
It is the longest tennis match played in a semi-final in history till date. The match that reached its climax in the 49th game of the deciding set, which saw these two old college friends hugging it out in the end.
The final scoreline read 7-6,6-7,6-7,6-4, 26-24. Two gigantic players Anderson (6’8″) and Isner (6’10”) truly played a game at par with their astounding stature.
Also Read: Who are the only unseeded players in history to win the Australian Open?
3. Leonardo Mayer (ARG) Vs Joao Souza (BRA) (2015 Davis Cup, 6 hours 43 mins)
If you think that the Brazil and Argentina rivalry is just limited to football then think again. The match between Brazil’s Joao Souza and Argentina’s Leonardo Mayer had all the spice needed to rival that. Mayer desperately needed to win the game to keep Argentina’s hopes alive in the Davis Cup group stages. Moreover the match was played in his home nation, in the city of Buenos Aires which resulted in extra pressure.
It was quite evident as Mayer missed out on 10 match points. Finally, he broke Souza’s serve leading 14-13. The 29th ranked Argentinian fell to the ground as the crowd and his teammates gave him a tumultuous ovation. The final score read 7-6,7-6,5-7,5-7,15-13. It also managed to level the best of five series at 2-2. It was truly remarkable moment for Argentine as well as South American tennis as a whole.
2. Tomas Berdych/Lukas Rosol (CZE) Vs Stan Wawrinka/ Marco Chiudinelli (SUI) (2013 Davis Cup, 7 hours 1 minute)
This match is the only doubles match in the list of longest tennis matches played. It is also the longest match in the history of the Davis Cup. Going on for seven hours and one minute, it truly was exhausting. Contested at Palexpo in Geneva, Switzerland – the match saw two teams leaving no stone unturned to win.
In the end, however, it was the visitors who had the last laugh. With the final result 6-4,5-7,6-4,6-7,24-22 in favour of Berdych and Rosol. The victory allowed the Czechs to put up a 2-1 lead. It was also instrumental behind the Czechs winning the Davis Cup that year.
1. John Isner Vs Nicolas Mahut (2010 Wimbledon, 11 hours 5 minutes)
John Isner can officially call himself the “Marathon Man” of tennis. The veteran has been through some intense battles. It is because of that he is on this list not just once but twice. This meeting with Frenchman Nicolas Mahut happened way before his showdown with Kevin Anderson. On top of that, unlike his on court bout in 2018 – this one in fact found him in the winners corner.
The game not only transcended minutes or hours but even days. The match that started on 22nd June 6:13 pm BST finished on 24th June at 4:47 pm. The only gaps imposed was because of the fading daylights. The final scoreline of the match was a never before seen 6-4,3-6,6-7,7-6,70-68. A record 183 games were played in total. The match broke many records worldwide. Such was its longevity that many referred to it as ‘the endless match’.
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