The Five Longest Matches in Wimbledon History

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The 2021 Wimbledon Championships will get underway on Monday and that is sure to bring back memories of some of the best and longest matches ever seen at the All England Club.

John Isner

There truly have been some marathon contests over the years at SW19, although they may now be a thing of the past following the decision by tournament organisers in 2019 to introduce a final set tiebreak that comes into play once the score reaches 12-12.

Prior to the introduction of that rule, matches that went to a final set were played until a clear winner was found and, in some cases, it took hours to separate the players, leading to some classic moments and plenty of sore limbs for those involved.

1. Novak Djokovic v Rafael Nadal 2018 – 5 hours 15 minutes

Djokovic and Nadal are two of the all-time greats of the game, winning a combined 39 Grand Slam titles during their respective careers, while they have met 58 times in total, with Djokovic edging the head-to-head record 30-28.

Just three of those meetings have come at Wimbledon, including the 2011 final that Djokovic won in four sets, but the most memorable of their encounters at the All England Club has to be their semi-final showdown of 2018.

Again, it was Djokovic who came through the marathon contest 6-4 3-6 7-6 3-6 10-8 in a match that was played over two days and led to the women’s final that year between Angelique Kerber and Serena Williams being delayed.

Djokovic went on to be crowned Wimbledon champion, beating Kevin Anderson in the final – although the big-hitting South African may have had his own reasons for feeling tired during that contest, but more on that later.

4. Greg Holmes v Todd Witsken 1989 – 5 hours 28 minutes

This all-American second-round battle held the honour of being the longest match ever played at Wimbledon for 21 years, with Holmes eventually winning the contest 5-7 6-4 7-6 4-6 14-12.

Bad light meant this match was spread across two days and it clearly took its toll on Holmes, who was beaten in straight sets by 16th-seed Amos Mansdorf in the following round.

Ironically, there was another match at these Championships that went even deeper into the fifth set, with David Pate eventually beating Tom Nijssen 15-13 in their decider, but that second-round match did not last anywhere near as long when compared to Holmes and Witsken’s encounter.

3. Marin Cilic v Sam Querrey 2012 – 5 hours 31 minutes

It took a long time to separate big-hitting duo Cilic and Querrey during their third-round match in 2012, with the former eventually coming through 7-6 6-4 6-7 6-7 17-15.

Cilic went on to suffer a straight sets loss to Andy Murray in the next round, although he did go on to taste Grand Slam glory at the US Open two years later, while he also reached the final at Wimbledon in 2017, beating Querrey in the semi-finals.

Querrey had only won one match at Wimbledon prior to 2012, but he seemingly became spurred on by his defeat to Cilic, as he not only reached the last four at the All England Club in 2017, but he has also made it through to two other quarter finals.

2. Kevin Anderson v John Isner 2018 – 6 hours 36 minutes

As mentioned earlier, Anderson would have had his own reasons for feeling tired during his 2018 final appearance against Djokovic, as he had just come through an epic encounter with American Isner.

Anderson eventually prevailed 7-6 6-7 6-7 6-4 26-24 to reach his second Grand Slam final following on from his run at the US Open the previous year.

This match is not only the second-longest to ever be contested at Wimbledon, but it is also fourth on the all-time list, although that still does not make it the longest of Isner’s career, with the American having been involved in an even more gruelling showdown eight years prior.

1. John Isner v Nicolas Mahut 2010 – 11 hours 5 minutes

There will surely never be a longer match played at Wimbledon than the aforementioned Isner’s first-round clash with Frenchman Mahut in 2010, with that contest lasting four hours and four minutes longer than any other in the history of professional tennis.

The marathon match was spread over three days, with a total 183 games being played, with the final set alone proving longer than the previous longest match in history.

Isner eventually came through the contest 6-4 3-6 6-7 7-6 70-68, but he understandably did not get much further in the tournament, picking up just five games as he lost to Thiemo de Bakker in the second round.

For Mahut, the defeat has not proved too damaging, as he has returned to Wimbledon seven times since, reaching the fourth round in 2016, while he has also won five Grand Slam titles in doubles, most recently claiming French Open glory this year alongside playing partner Pierre-Hugues Herbert.

*All odds correct at time of writing

A fountain of knowledge on football, Tom offers a particular in-depth expertise in EFL and European leagues.

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