In one of the most epic matches in Wimbledon history, John Isner’s run at this year’s tournament ended in disappointment.
The American battled for 6 hours, 35 minutes but fell 7-6, 6-7, 6-7, 6-4, 26-24 to South Africa’s Kevin Anderson in the men’s semifinals on Friday. It was Isner’s first appearance in the Wimbledon semifinal and the longest match in the history of Wimbledon’s Centre Court.
It is also the second-longest match ever at a tennis major.
To say it was a close match would be drastically underselling what took place between the two players, whose history against one another dates back to their college days when Isner played at Georgia and Anderson played at Illinois. However, the two had not met in a tour event since 2015.
The first three sets were decided by tiebreaker before Anderson won the fourth set. Isner served to start the fifth set, for which there is no tiebreaker, and both players continued to hold serve game after game.
Despite the fifth set’s historic length, both players did have chances to break each other’s serve. With the set tied 7-7, Anderson had the chance to break Isner but the American fought him back to take an 8-7 lead, and so it continued as neither player seemed willing to blink.
After that, each continued to hold serve and did so for 48 games in the final set. But with the set tied at 24, Anderson finally broke Isner’s serve to make it 25-24. The South African would then hold his serve and book his trip to the Wimbledon final.
Despite the loss, Isner adds to his legacy at Wimbledon. The 2012 Olympian played the longest match in Wimbledon history in 2010. That one lasted 11 hours, 5 minutes and took place over the course of three days.