Longest-ever match finishes after 11 hours 5 minutes

Last Updated: Jun 24, 2010, 22:27 PM IST

London: The longest tennis match in history finally finished at Wimbledon on Thursday after an epic 11 hours and five minutes, with John Isner beating Nicolas Mahut 70-68 in the final set.

The two embraced at the net after the marathon match finally ended when American Isner sent a passing shot down the line, dropping his racquet and falling to the ground in delight.

Mahut held his head in his hands and buried his head in his towel and spent a long time sat in his chair with his head down.

On the court, the All England Club gave both players and the match umpire a special momento to mark the occasion.

They posed for a photograph by the scoreboard alongside the umpire.

The two began their match on Tuesday, when they managed to complete the first four sets before bad light stopped play for the first time around.

Play had been called off at 59-59 at 9:10pm (2010 GMT) on Wednesday after 10 hours - with the fifth set already longer than the previous longest match ever played which lasted six hours 33 minutes at the 2004 French Open.

Wimbledon officials could have opted to put them on Centre Court or Court One before a five-figure crowd, but they decided to let them resume on the 782-capacity Court 18.

Tennis fans bagged their seats early to watch a bit of tennis history, with Mexican waves going around the court and people already packed several deep on the broadcasting centre roof overlooking the court.

Tennis legend John McEnroe was among those in the crowd.

Perhaps in anticipation of yet more hours of play, officials brought out several sets of new balls.

They were given a huge cheer as they arrived back on the court before their regulation warm-up - not that they were short of match practice.

Isner got things under way with a double fault.

But he eventually earned himself a match point and converted it with a backhand passing shot that brought the epic tie to an end.

Isner was scheduled to play in the doubles later on.

"That`s kind of a mean joke," he said.

"I`ll go back to the locker room and see what happens."

Bureau Report