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Longest Tennis Matches Ever Recorded

Isner vs Mahut, Singles, Match Time 1105h

Have you ever wondered what the longest tennis match ever is? Below, we discuss the Top 10 longest battles in tennis. Enjoy.

The Longest Tennis Matches Ever Recorded

Jose Clerc vs John McEnroe6 hours and 15 minutes1980 Davies Cup6-3, 6-2, 4-6, 13-11
Licas Ker & David Nalbandian vs Yevgeny Kafelnikov & Marat Safin6 hours and 20 minutes1980 Davies Cup6-4, 6-4, 5-7, 3-6, 19-17
Boris Becker vs John McEnroe6 hours and 21 minutes1987 Davies Cup4-6, 15-13, 8-10, 6-2, 6-2
John McEnroe vs Mats Wilander6 hours and 22 minutes1982 Davies Cup9-7, 6-2, 15-17, 3-6, 8-6
Vicki Nelson vs Jean Hepner6 hours and 31 minutes1984 Central Fidelity Banks International6-4, 7-6
Fabrice Santoro vs Arnaud Clement6 hours and 33 minutes2004 French Open6-4, 6-3, 6-7, 3-6, 16-14
Kevin Anderson vs John Isner6 hours and 36 minutes2018 Wimbledon7-6, 6-7, 6-7, 6-4, 26-24
Leonardo Mayer vs Joao Souza6 hours and 43 minutes2015 Davies Cup7-6, 7-6, 5-7, 5-7, 15-13
Tomas Berdych & Lukas Rosol vs Stanislas Wawrinka & Marco Chuidinelli7 hours and 1 minute2013 Davies Cup6-4, 5-7, 6-4, 6-7, 24-22
John Isner vs Nicolas Mahut11 hours and 5 minutes2010 Wimbledon6-4, 3-6, 6-7, 7-6, 70-68

10. Clerc vs McEnroe, Singles, Match Time: 6:15h

Let’s start with McEnroe vs Clerc. To set the scene, this clash was double that of Serena Williams’ longest game of 3:11h. 

At the peak of his power, John McEnroe met Argentinean Jose Clerc in the 1980 Davies Cup. The clash would turn into a gruelling six-hour test for both. Under the gaze of 5,500 spectators, Clerc, a clay court specialist, defied the odds to take the first two sets 6-3 and 6-2. McEnroe mobilized and took the third set 4-6, but the back-and-forth was so frequent that the match had to be interrupted as the daylight subsided. Resuming on the next day, Clerc and McEnroe would go on squeezing their throats for another three hours and nine minutes. Ultimately, Clerc came on top with 13-11 in the fourth and final set.

Clerc vs McEnroe

9. Ker & Nalbandian vs Kefelnikov & Safin, Doubles, Match Time: 6:20h

The 2002 Davies Cup clash between Argentina and Russia saw Ker and Nalbandian face Kefelnikov and Safin. The encounter would take more than six hours and would become one of the longest doubles tennis matches ever played. 

Russian resistance was practically non-existent in the first two sets, with Argentina taking them with ease, 6-4, 6-4. Kefelnikov and Safin, however, responded in the third and fourth sets, 5-7, 3-6. The fifth and final set was the longest. It went on for 36 games. The Argentineans slightly edged it in the end with 19-17.

Ker & Nalbandian vs Kefelnikov & Safin

8. Becker vs McEnroe, Singles, Match Time: 6:21h

It was seven years after the longest tennis match had been played in the Davies Cup. Arch-rivals Boris Becker and John McEnroe met at the relegation play-off of the 1987 Davies Cup in what was to become the second-longest match in tennis at that time. 

The first set was nothing out of the ordinary – a break by McEnroe and a set win of 6-4. The second set, however, took more than two hours and 39 minutes to resolve. The two players went shoulder to shoulder until the 28th game. McEnroe missed three set winners, allowing younger Becker to apply his will and win the set 15-13. The match was far from over. McEnroe took the next gruelling set 10-8, only to allow Becker to return and win the match, 6-3, 6-3 in the final sets.

7. McEnroe vs Wilander, Singles, Match Time: 6:22h

Six hours and 32 minutes. Again in the Davies Cup. Compare this to the longest US open tennis match – 5:26h – and you will begin to understand why Davies Cup is special. This one was between McEnroe and Swedish starlet Mats Wilander. It was one of those matches, where spectators left for dinner, only to return and find out that match still went on.

Hints of an epic upcoming battle popped up right from the start. McEnroe met sturdy opposition from physically-fit Wilander but came out on top with 9-7. The second set went 6-2 for McEnroe. At this point, everyone thought it was over. But Wilander fought to 15-17 in a tiring third set and 3-6 in the fourth. Running on empty, McEnroe collapsed in joy after 8-6 in the final set.

McEnroe vs Wilander

6. Nelson vs Hepner, Singles, Match Time: 6:31h

In 1983, as part of the ATP tour, Vicki Nelson and Jean Hepner were to materialize the longest women’s tennis match over just two sets. At a first glance, the 6-4, 7-6 straight-set win for Nelson doesn’t leave room for six hours of play, but there was. In the second set, both players played cautiously, staying on the baseline and exchanging shots. At one point, they had a 643-shot rally, which took over an hour. In the second set, Hepner fought to a set point, threatening to extend the match with another hour or two, but Nelson decided enough was enough. 

5. Santoro vs Clement, Singles, Match Time: 6:33h

On the clay court of Roland-Garros, in front of 15,000 fans, Fabrice Santoro and Arnaud Clement were to stage a tennis marathon for the history annals. They battled under the Sun for six hours and 33 minutes. 

The match started in the late afternoon and all seemed going on track when Santoro took the first two sets 6-4 and 6-3. But Clement had different ideas. In the third set, the Frenchman piled pressure and applied his will to come back, 6-7 and 3-6. At 2-2 sets and 5-5 games in the fifth, night swept in and the match had to be interrupted after more than four hours of display. On the next day, it took another two hours for Santoro to wear down Clement with a 16-14 in the final set. 

Santoro vs Clement

4. Anderson vs Isner, Singles, Match Time: 6:36

One of the most recent over six-hour long encounters was between John Isner and Kevin Anderson in the 2018 Wimbledon. The two would stage the longest Wimbledon match in recent years – six hours and 36 minutes.

Matches such as this one are exemplary of how technique makes way for endurance in tennis. In this case, Anderson outlasted Isner. The semi-final progressed to a one-set advantage for Anderson before Isner fought back for 1-1. The spoils were shared in the third and fourth sets as well. The fifth was to take over two hours to resolve in favor of Anderson. 

Anderson vs Isner

3. Mayer vs Souza, Singles, Match Time: 6:43h

In 2015, over 30 years after the longest tennis game between McEnroe and Wilander, Leonardo Mayer and Joao Souza were to stage an even longer encounter. Over six hours and 43 minutes, they battled in spite of pain and heat for a place in the second round of the Davies Cup.

In the first two sets, Mayer scooped from the energy of the home crowd in Buenos Aires to edge it 7-6 and 7-6. Souza found Samba magic in the next two sets and came back with 5-7 and 5-7. The fifth set would consume another two and 30 minutes. Both players squandered match points, but it was Mayer who emerged victorious in the end with 15-13.

Mayer vs Souza

2. Berdych & Rosol vs Wawrinka & Chuidinelli, Doubles, Match Time: 7:01h

Maybe the fresh air of the Alps was responsible for the freak match between the Czech Republic and Switzerland in the first round of the Davies Cup. It would turn out to be the Number One pretender for the longest tennis match in history. 

The Czechs struck first with 6-4. Wawrinka and Chuidineli responded to tie the match. The third set went again 6-4 for the Czech double. The Swiss again fought back to a 5-7. The last set would suck the players dry of energy. Over several gruelling hours and endless back-and-forth play with winning chances for both sides, Berdych and Rosol broke the match, 24-22. 

Berdych & Rosol vs Wawrinka & Chuidinelli

1. Isner vs Mahut, Singles, Match Time: 11:05h

If there ever was a clash that went beyond physical and mental fatigue into the archetypal, it must be the one between John Isner and Nicolas Mahut. To put it in context, the clash between Djokovic and Nadal from 2012 was the longest Australian Open match – 5:53h. This one was 11 hours long! One could only imagine the states the players went through. This encounter from the first round of the 2010 Wimbledon is the longest men’s tennis match ever to this day. And it probably won’t be matched for decades – if ever.

The first set contained no hints of the coming struggle. Isner won it 6-4. Mahut responded by taking the next two sets, 3-6 and 6-7. Isner stayed in the match with 7-6 in the fourth before the game was interrupted by fading daylight. 

On the next day, no one expected what was to come. Players exchanged aces and went should to shoulder in the tie-break. At one point, the scoreboard broke, as it wasn’t designed to register more than 47-47. So, organizers had to call it a day again. 

The battle continued on the next day: point for point. Until some divine intervention.  Isner toppled his opponent to the final 70-68 in the fifth set. To date, John Isner’s longest match remains a marvel of tennis history.

Hi there! I'm Jake Steinberg, a passionate sports journalist with a knack for diving deep into the stories of inspiring sportsmen and sportswomen. Every athlete has a tale, and it's my mission to bring theirs to light. Join me on this journey through the highs and lows of the sporting world!

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