Marathon matches

After Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal's Australian Open marathon, we look at the longest matches in sport

Last Updated: 30/01/12 8:13am

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Marathon Match: Isner and Mahut at Wimbledon

Marathon Match: Isner and Mahut at Wimbledon

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After Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal's Australian Open marathon, we look at the longest matches in sport

Djokovic beat Nadal to win the Melbourne title in the longest ever grand slam final, which clocked in at five hours and 53 minutes.

Here we look at some other marathon sporting tussles.


Djokovic and Nadal may have played out the longest grand slam final, but the longest match remains the epic played out between John Isner and Nicolas Mahut at Wimbledon two years ago. Isner eventually prevailed 6-4 3-6 6-7 (7/9) 7-6 (7/3) 70-68 in a match that spanned 11 hours and five minutes over three days. The final set alone lasted over eight hours and numerous records were broken, including Isner's 113 aces.


The longest cricket match took place between South Africa and England in Durban in 1939. It began on March 3 and continued until March 14, although there was no play on three of the days. The outcome still ended up being a draw as England had to catch a boat home on March 15. The match spanned 43 hours and 16 minutes of playing time in which 1,981 runs were scored.


In 1979, Arsenal needed four replays to get past Sheffield Wednesday in an epic FA Cup third-round tie. The original match was a 1-1 draw, with Third Division Wednesday then holding their top-flight opponents to the same scoreline in the first replay. A 2-2 draw and a 3-3 draw followed before Arsenal finally won 2-0. The longest FA Cup tie came eight years earlier when Oxford City and Alvechurch played six matches. Alvechurch won the final game 1-0 to progress to the first round proper.


In 1985, Dennis Taylor beat Steve Davis on the final black of the 35th frame in one of the most famous World Championship finals. Underdog Taylor fought back from 8-0 and then 17-15 down before a 68-minute final frame that the Northern Irishman took on his fourth chance at the black. The match lasted 14 hours and 50 minutes, finishing at 12.19am, and the climax was watched by 18.5million television viewers.


The longest game in baseball history took place between Pawtucket Red Sox and Rochester Red Wings in 1981. After 32 innings, and with the match tied at two runs each, play was suspended at 4am. The crowd had dropped from 1,700 to 19. Play resumed two months later but it took Pawtucket only 18 minutes to score a run and clinch the game.


Anatoly Karpov looked set to win the 1984 World Chess Championship easily when he opened up a 4-0 lead over Gary Kasparov. But Kasparov had a physical advantage, he was 12 years younger than his fellow Soviet, so he embarked on a strategy to drain his opponent. After five months, and with the score at five wins for Karpov, three for Kasparov and 40 draws, the match was postponed because of fears for the players' health. A rematch, limited to 24 games, took place in 1985, with Kasparov winning 13-11.

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