70-68 in 5th set: Isner wins longest tennis match in history

American finally pulls out Wimbledon win over Mahut after play is suspended for darkness two nights in a row

Published June 24, 2010 5:25PM (EDT)

John Isner has won the longest match in tennis history, taking the fifth set against Nicolas Mahut 70-68.

The first-round match at Wimbledon took 11 hours, 5 minutes over three days. Isner closed out the victory Thursday with a backhand winner, then collapsed to his back as he tossed his racket in jubilation and relief.

Isner won 6-4, 3-6, 6-7 (7), 7-6 (3), 70-68.

The match lasted so long it was suspended because of darkness — two nights in a row. Play resumed Thursday at 59-all and continued for more than an hour before Isner won.

The American finished with 112 aces, and Mahut had 103. There were only three service breaks in the match, the last coming on the final point.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

WIMBLEDON, England (AP) — Briton Andy Murray won his second-round match at Wimbledon and an ovation from the queen.

With Queen Elizabeth II visiting the All England Club for the first time since 1977, Murray defeated Jarkko Nieminen of Finland on Centre Court, 6-3, 6-4, 6-2.

Murray, seeded fourth, is trying to become the first British player to win Wimbledon since the queen watched Virginia Wade win the women's final 33 years ago.

The queen took her seat in the front row of the Royal Box shortly before Murray and Nieminen walked onto the court. They turned toward her and simultaneously bowed as the crowd roared.

Murray, the only British player left in singles, might have been a bit nervous at the start. He faced four break points in the opening game but erased them all, then pulled away from there.

The queen joined the applause when Murray closed out the win. Both players again bowed as they left the court, and they then met with the queen on a balcony overlooking the club's outer courts before she departed.

Over on Court 1, 2004 champion Maria Sharapova advanced to the third round by beating Ioana Raluca Olaru 6-1, 6-4. Seeded 16th, Sharapova won 20 of 23 points at the net.

The queen emerged from a car near the club's practice courts an hour before the day's first matches, and walked toward Centre Court along a walkway lined with spectators. When she reached the members' lawn, she met several players, including Roger Federer, Venus and Serena Williams and Andy Roddick, and former Wimbledon champions Martina Navratilova and Billie Jean King.

"She said, `Oh, you've been coming here a long time,'" King said. "And I said, `Yes, 49 years in a row,' and she goes, `Oh, that's wonderful.' ... It was really an honor and a big thrill for me, because it is on my bucket list."

Serena Williams greeted the queen with the curtsy she had been practicing. Roddick and Federer bowed. Spectators cheered as the queen then walked across a bridge to the clubhouse for lunch.

While she dined, No. 7-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska defeated Alberta Brianti 6-2, 6-0. No. 10 Flavia Pennetta swept Monica Niculescu 6-1, 6-1, and No. 14 Victoria Azarenka beat Bojana Jovanovski 6-1, 6-4. No. 23 Zheng Jie lost to Petra Kvitova 6-4, 2-6, 6-2.

The queen was unlikely to attend the resumption of the marathon match on remote Court 18 between American John Isner and Nicolas Mahut of France that has lasted so long it was suspended because of darkness — for the second night in a row.

After 10 hours of play, 881 points and 193 aces over two days, the fifth set was at 59-all. It kept going because neither player could break the other.

"He's serving fantastic. I'm serving fantastic," Isner said. "That's really all there is to it."

The electronic scoreboard froze and then went blank, perhaps from the fatigue of trying keeping up with the longest match in the sport's history. The Wimbledon website also lost track of the score.

Following an overnight suspension, the match resumed Wednesday at the start of the fifth set. More than seven hours later, there was still no winner.

"Nothing like this will ever happen again," Isner said. "Ever."

Aside from the astounding marathon match, there were no big surprises on day 3 of the tournament. Federer endured some tense moments before beating qualifier Ilija Bozoljac, 6-3, 6-7 (4), 6-4, 7-6 (5), and three-time Wimbledon runner-up Roddick rallied past Michael Llodra 4-6, 6-4, 6-1, 7-6 (2).

Five-time champion Williams lost only 11 points on her serve and beat Ekaterina Makarova 6-0, 6-4. Belgians Justine Henin and Kim Clijsters, both back at the All England Club after coming out of retirement, won and remained on course for a fourth-round meeting.

But the showdown of the fortnight has already been determined. It involves an American seeded 23rd and a Frenchman ranked 148th who made the field through qualifying.

Four times in the fifth set, Isner was one point from victory, but Mahut saved each match point. Still undecided, the match was by far the longest in terms of games or time. The fifth set alone took more than 7 hours, making it longer than the previous longest match of 6 hours, 33 minutes at the 2004 French Open.

By Steven Wine AP

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