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Wimbledon: After Many, Many Hours, Kevin Anderson Beats John Isner in the Semifinals

WIMBLEDON, England — Let’s start with the score: 7-6 (6), 6-7 (5), 6-7 (9) 6-4, 26-24.

And the time: 6 hours 36 minutes.

Tennis matches generally do not carry on quite like this — unless they involve John Isner. His ultramarathon loss to Kevin Anderson, by that score and over all those hours, in the Wimbledon semifinals on Friday amounted to the longest Grand Slam singles semifinal in tennis history.

The longest match ever was Isner’s victory at Wimbledon in 2010 over Nicolas Mahut, 6-4, 3-6, 6-7 (7), 7-6 (3), 70-68, in the first round. That one took three days to complete and officially lasted 11 hours 5 minutes.

Anderson’s win was only the first semifinal of the day. Second-seeded Rafael Nadal and 12th-seeded Novak Djokovic took the court after Isner and Anderson, about 8:10 p.m. local time. The Centre Court roof was closed so that the players could continue to play under the lights. An 11 p.m. curfew is imposed on night matches at Wimbledon.

As expected in a match between very tall men with booming serves, the first three sets were decided in tiebreakers. But there were, in fact, several breaks of serve. The most important came with Isner serving at 24-24. In a fifth set that lasted 2 hours 55 minutes, Anderson never faced a break point.

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