Unlike other sports, tennis matches don’t end when a certain time limit is reached. Grand slam matches for men are played as best of 5 sets and may sometimes take up to 5 hours or more.
Over the years, Grand Slams have tried to add tiebreaks in the fifth as a means to end long matches. Before tiebreaks in the fifth set, the winner had to have a 2-game advantage in the final set.
At the 2010 Wimbledon championships, John Isner beat Nicolas Mahut 6–4, 3–6, 6–7(7–9), 7–6(7–3), 70–68 in a first-round match. It was the longest match in tennis history. The two players played 183 games in total and the match lasted 8 hours and 11 minutes. The match lasted more than 2 days because the play was suspended due to lack of light.
Fifth Set Tiebreak Rules At Grand Slams
In 2022, all four grand slams agreed to normalize tiebreak rules. Previously, each grand slam had its own rules the fifth set tiebreak, which confused fans.
For all four grand slams – Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon, and US Open, the following rules apply.
- Tiebreak will be played at 6-6 in the fifth set
- The tiebreak will be a 10-point tiebreak. The first player to win 10 points with a margin of two points wins the tiebreak and hence the match.
The Grand Slam Board considers this tiebreak rule change a trial and will review it after a year. If the results are satisfactory, the change will be made permanent.