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A Confluence of Sports Records

Thursday, June 24, 2010, 03:40 EDT Leave a comment Go to comments

June 23 has been a significant date in sports history since the AAA International League’s Pawtucket Red Sox and Rochester Red Wings completed the longest game in organized baseball history in 1981 in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. The game actually spanned three days: it began after a rain delay on the evening of April 18, was suspended with the score tied 2-2 after 32 innings a couple hours before dawn on April 19, and finished two months later in the 33rd inning, before the start of a regularly scheduled game on the Red Wings’ next trip to Pawtucket. The teams’ rosters for that game included several major-leaguers-to-be, the most notable being future Hall of Fame third basemen Cal Ripken, Jr., and Wade Boggs.

Perhaps it bodes well for the future success of tennis players Nicolas Mahut and John Isner that, on the 29th anniversary of the conclusion of one record-shattering game, they started another. Their first-round match went to a fifth set, and when the it was suspended due to darkness, the results looking like this:

4-6, 6-3, 7-6, 6-7, 59-59

59-59? That’s almost a basketball score. For those trying to do the math in their heads, this match is comprised of 163 games so far. It’s the longest professional tennis match in history, and after ten hours of play, it still isn’t over.

“The fifth set on its own was longer any other game in history at this point… its [sic] pretty extraordinary,” observed Scott Bordon, head of TV for the Laureus World Sports Awards, which are awarded annually to sportspeople who have been outstanding during the previous year.

[ . . . ]

The previous record for longest professional tennis match belonged to Fabrice Santoro and Arnaud Clement in the 2004 French Open. Santoro finally prevailed after 6 hours, 33 minutes.

Six hours 33 minutes? That was Isner and Mahut’s warm-up.

The match will continue tomorrow. When it does, someone will win. Eventually. And 29 years from now, at Wimbledon 2039, they’ll be talking about Isner and Mahut’s unique place in sports history, and how back when it was happening, they thought it would never end.

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