After 11 hours and five absorbing minutes on court, John Isner wrote his name into the record books as the winner of the sport's longest ever battle when the giant American finally clinched the epic three-day, 183-game thriller 6-4, 3-6, 6-7 (7-9), 7-6 (7-3), 70-68.

After the two men resumed on Thursday at 59-59 in the fifth set with exactly 10 hours on the clock, the conclusion came an hour and five minutes into the third day when Isner threaded a backhand pass up the line. The final shot of the match handed the 23rd seed what had proved an elusive break of serve that finally brought to an end an eight-hour, 11-minute final set.

The last break of serve had come two days earlier when Mahut had taken Isner's serve (to love!) in the second game of the second set early on Tuesday afternoon. That meant the two gladiators had held serve for an astounding 168 games before Isner collapsed to the turf after converting his fifth match point.

As the two men embraced after the final, 980th point of the match fans, media and players rose as one to applaud their heroic effort.

For the record, the match eclipsed the previous longest - a 2004 French Open duel between Frenchmen Fabrice Santoro and Arnaud Clement - by a massive four hours and 32 minutes. The combined ace tally stood at 215, with Isner hammering down 112, just nine more than his opponent on 103.

As the crowd waited for part three of this absorbing battle, there was a buzz of anticipation in the air. All those involved were ready. Swedish umpire Mohamed Lahyani was back refreshed, as were John McEnroe and Tracy Austin, both courtside to witness the drama. Even the scoreboard was in better shape, patched up and back in working order after conking out at 50-all on Wednesday night.

The first key moment came after only a couple of minutes as Isner delivered his 100th ace on his way to holding for 60-59. Fifteen minutes later Mahut matched the statistic as he held to bring the scores back to 62-62.

The match clock ticked over the 11-hour mark just as Isner made it 69-68, and in the next game the match was decided. A miscued drop shot from the Frenchman left him at 15-30, and although a brilliant serve and volley point made it30-all, the end was near.

An Isner forehand pass took him to 40-30 and his fifth match point, and a laser-like backhand that left the Frenchman rooted to the spot brought down the final curtain.

Isner's reward is a second round meeting with Dutchman Thiemo De Bakker, himself the winner of a marathon first match when he beat Colombia's Santiago Giraldo 16-14 in the deciding set. Perhaps they should be made to play best of three sets.

Source:- Wimbledon

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