One of the many great things about tennis is that you just never know when a match is going to end. Sometimes you can buy a ticket to a match that you think is going to go for a couple of hours and it’s done and over with after just 30 minutes. Then, there are matches that can take six hours or more, truly giving you your money’s worth.
It’s extremely rare for a match to start approaching the six-hour mark, though. Even more rare is seven hours, with only two matches in professional tennis history making it that far. Out of the marathon matches that tennis has seen, which ones are the longest? These five, which all happen to be at major tournaments, had fans sleeping in their seats due to the sheer time it took for a winner to be determined.
5. Fabrice Santoro vs. Arnaud Clement
The only match in the top five that didn’t take place at Wimbledon or the Davis Cup was a 6 hour 33 minute affair at the 2004 French Open between Fabrice Santoro and Arnaud Clement.
In a match that took two separate days to complete, Santoro defeated Clement in five sets, taking that final set 16-14 in a tiebreaker. Santoro had won the first two sets, so the match could’ve been much, much shorter. Strangely enough, Santoro won his next match before falling in the third round to Olivier Mutis.
4. John Isner vs. Kevin Anderson
While the rest of the matches on the list were in the first round, the match between John Isner and Kevin Anderson was in the semifinal of a grand slam tournament. At Wimbledon 2018, Isner and Anderson came into the tournament as the ninth and eighth seeds, respectively. Isner had already played a lengthy Wimbledon match (more on that later), and this one with a chance at the finals on the line lasted for 6 hours and 36 minutes.
Anderson won the first set 7-6, with Isner taking the next two 6-7, 6-7. Anderson then forced a fifth set that he won 26-24 to clinch his finals spot. Anderson, however, ran into the buzzsaw that is Novak Djokovic and lost in straight sets.
3. Team Argentina vs. Team Brazil
The 2015 Davis Cup was full of surprises, which included unseeded Great Britain winning the finals. Before then, however, Brazil and Argentina played a first round match for the ages that lasted for 6 hours and 43 minutes. Leonardo Mayer represented Argentina and squared off against Brazil’s Joao Souza.
Mayer got off to a good start by winning the first two sets, but Souza answered with two set wins of his own. The winner was determined with a 15-13 tiebreaker in the final set, allowing Argentina to advance to the second round where they lost to Serbia.
2. Team Czech Republic vs. Team Switzerland
At the 2013 Davis Cup, the Czech Republic was one of the favorites as they were given the second seed behind only Spain. Spain suffered a massive upset in the first round against Canada, however, paving the way for the Czechs to take home the title. It wouldn’t be easy, though, as they also had their first round struggles.
Representing the Czech Republic were Tomas Berdych and Lukas Rosol, and they squared off against Team Switzerland which was represented by Stan Wawrinka and Marco Chiudinelli. After splitting the first four sets, Berdych and Rosol prevailed after 7 hours and 1 minute, winning the final set 24-22 and going on to beat Serbia in the finals.
1. John Isner vs. Nicolas Mahut
John Isner seems to have a flair for the dramatic (and lengthy) as his match against Nicolas Mahut at Wimbledon in 2010 is not only his second appearance on the list, but it’s also the longest match in professional tennis history. Second place isn’t particularly close, either, as these two dueled for 11 hours and 5 minutes over the course of three days.
What made the match even more unique is that all of this was in the first round of the Wimbledon tournament, which caused a lot of scheduling issues for the subsequent rounds. Isner and Mahut went five matches, with Isner ending up on top due to the insane 70-68 final set which took 8 hours and 11 minutes. Isner was so tired that he lost in the second round in just 74 minutes to Thiemo de Bakker.