Longest Tennis Match Ever Continues Thursday

John Isner of the US gestures during his epic men's singles match against Nicolas Mahut of France, at the All England Lawn Tennis Championships at Wimbledon, Wednesday, June 23, 2010. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant) AP Photo

Updated at 6:59 p.m. EDT

The longest match in tennis history was suspended because of darkness at 59-59 in the fifth set at Wimbledon on Wednesday.

The first-round match between 23rd-seeded John Isner of the United States and qualifier Nicolas Mahut of France already had been suspended because of fading light Tuesday night after the fourth set.

They have been playing each other for a total of exactly 10 hours - 7 hours, 6 minutes in the fifth set alone, enough to break the full-match record of 6:33, set at the 2004 French Open.

Photos: 2010 Wimbledon Highlights
CBSSports.com: Wimbledon Scoreboard

In the big Grand Slam tennis tournaments like Wimbledon, there's no quick tie-breaker to decide the match, reports CBS News correspondent Mark Phillips.

Never before in the history of Wimbledon, which first was contested in 1877, had any match - singles or doubles, men or women - lasted more than 112 games, a mark set in 1969. Isner and Mahut played more games than that in their fifth set, and still did not determine a victor, although the American came close: He had four match points but Mahut saved each one.

Even a courtside electronic scoreboard couldn't keep up, getting stuck at 47-47 when the score really had risen to 48-48, then eventually going dark entirely.

Yet the pair played on. All the numbers were truly astounding: They played 881 points, 612 in the fifth set. Isner hit 98 aces, Mahut 95 - both eclipsing the previous high for a match at any tournament, 78.

Records fell along with the darkness. Ten hours of playing, almost three and a half hours longer than any previous match. But they are not finished. The match will continue, stretching into a third day.

Shortly after 9 p.m. local time, Mahut and Isner approached the net to discuss with a tournament official whether to keep going Wednesday.

"I want to play," Mahut said, "but I can't see."

Fans began chanting, "We want more! We want more!" then rose to salute the players with a standing ovation.

They'll try to finish Thursday…if either Isner and Mahut can get out of bed.

In a courtside TV interview, Isner said: "Nothing like this will ever happen again. Ever."

Elsewhere at Wimbledon on Wednesday, Andy Roddick recovered from a slow start to reach the third round with a 4-6, 6-4, 6-1, 7-6 (2) victory over France's Michael Llodra.

Roger Federer survived another tense early-round match at Wimbledon when he overcame the tricky Serbian qualifier Ilija Bozoljac 6-3, 6-7 (4), 6-4, 7-6 (5).

Five-time Wimbledon champion Venus Williams lost only 11 points on her serve and beat Ekaterina Makarova 6-0, 6-4. Williams is seeded second behind her sister Serena, who won when they met in last year's final.

Justine Henin was also made to sweat during her second-round match. The seven-time Grand Slam champion twice was broken serving for the victory, then regrouped and beat Kristina Barrois 6-3, 7-5.

Fellow Belgian Kim Clijsters also advanced, beating Karolina Sprem 6-3, 6-2. Clijsters and Henin are both back at Wimbledon after coming out of retirement, and they could meet in the fourth round.

No. 13 Shahar Peer lost to Angelique Kerber 3-6, 6-3, 6-4. No. 11 Marion Bartoli advanced with a walkover against Petra Martic.

Umbrellas were out - not for rain, but as shields from the sun on the hottest day of the tournament.
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