By Dexter R. Matilla
The longest tennis match in history... is history.
After playing a total of 11 hours and five minutes, the three-day epic match between American John Isner and Frenchman Nicolas Mahut finally came to an end with the former coming out on top 4-6, 6-3, 7-6, 6-7, 70-68.
The match that probably would never be duplicated ever again in any way captured the imagination of the entire world as two top-tier athletes did battle in Court 18, one that has a capacity seating barely reaching 800.
But on this day, almost everybody wanted to get into the court to be part of something truly special in the world of tennis or in any sport for that matter.
Tennis legend John McEnroe was on the court early, wearing a New York cap the same way Isner wears his Nike.
At 3:48 PM London time, both Isner and Mahut then arrived on the court flanked by security and with probably thousands of spectators cheering them on as if the match they were about to witness was the men's championship itself.
Isner had an auspicious start as he made a double fault at the resumption of the match. But two aces from him and an unforced error by Mahut gave Isner the 60-59 lead.
Mahut responded with a love game to tie and from then on, it was back and forth between the two players as nobody was able to break the serve of the other.
That was until 68-69 with Mahut serving when a forehand winner by Isner set up matchpoint at 30-40. Isner's backhand down the line winner sealed the match for him as a dejected Mahut grabbed on to his hair seemingly stunned. Isner and Mahut made their way to the net and shared a hug as the crowd erupted in applauding both players.
After the match, both players and chair umpire Mohamed Lahyani were awarded a special memento by the All-England Club for the roles they played in this record-shattering match.
"He's a warrior," Isner said of Mahut after the match. "Maybe we'll meet again in the future but hopefully it doesn't go 70-68."
Likewise, Mahut said that Isner deserved to win.
"He's a champion. We played the greatest match ever and I think we both enjoyed it."
Isner faces Thiemo De Bakker of the Netherlands in the second round tomorrow.