7 longest tie-breaks in tennis Grand Slam history

The seven longest tie-breaks in tennis Grand Slam history
The seven longest tie-breaks in tennis Grand Slam history

Rafael Nadal played the longest tie-break of his career on Sunday, beating Adrian Mannarino 16-14 in their first-set tie-break. The World No. 5 went on to win the match 7-6(14), 6-2, 6-2 and booked a place in the quarterfinals of the Australian Open for the 14th time.

While it may have been the longest tie-break of Nadal's career, it is by no means the longest one played in a Grand Slam. In fact, it is not even the longest tie-break at the Melbourne Major.

Here is a list of the seven longest tie-breaks at Grand Slams:


#7 John McEnroe vs Bjorn Borg

In what is widely regarded as one of the greatest tennis matches of all time, Bjorn Borg defeated John McEnroe in five sets to lift the 1980 Wimbledon title and his 10th Major. The fourth set of the match involved an 18-16 tie-break, the third longest in the tournament's history.

After winning the tie-break, McEnroe saved seven Championship points before Borg finally defeated the American 1-6, 7-5, 6-3, 6-7(16), 8-6 in an affair that lasted three hours and 53 minutes. McEnroe had his revenge the following year when he defeated the defending champion in four sets in the final to win his third Major.


#6 John Isner vs Jarkko Nieminen

John Isner holds the record for the second longest tie-break at Wimbledon
John Isner holds the record for the second longest tie-break at Wimbledon

Ninth seed John Isner took on Jarkko Nieminen in the second round of Wimbledon in 2014. The American prevailed 7-6(17), 7-6(3), 7-5. The 19-17 first-set tie-break was the second-longest in Wimbledon's history.

Isner saved five set points before taking the first set and went on to win the match to notch up his fifth straight win against the Finn. Isner fell to Feliciano Lopez in four sets in the third round. Interestingly, three of those sets were decided by a tie-break.


#5 Denisa Satralova vs Johanna Konta

Johanna Konta squared off against Denisa Satralova in the first round of the 2015 French Open on her main-draw debut at the tournament. In a narrow 7-6(17), 4-6, 6-2 loss to the Czech, the former World No. 4 took part in the longest ever tie-break at the French Open.

Incidentally, the 19-17 first-set tie-break is the longest in the women's singles at Grand Slams. Satralova could not capitalize on her victory, losing her second-round encounter against Tsvetana Pironkova.


#4 Lorenzo Sonego vs Taylor Fritz

Lorenzo Sonego beat Taylor Fritz in the joint-longest tie-break in the history of Roland Garros
Lorenzo Sonego beat Taylor Fritz in the joint-longest tie-break in the history of Roland Garros

Five years after Konta and Satralova's epic contest, 27th seed Taylor Fritz and Lorenzo Sonego repeated the feat in the third round of the 2020 French Open. The Italian beat Fritz 7-6(5), 6-3, 7-6(17) to reach the second week of a Grand Slam for the first time in his career.

The American saved six match points during the 19-17 third-set tie-break, but Sonego held on to convert his seventh. In the fourth round, Sonego suffered a straight-sets loss at the hands of Diego Schwartzman.


#3 Goran Ivanisevic vs Daniel Nestor

Best known for being the only man to win Wimbledon as a wildcard (2001), Goran Ivanisevic was also involved in the longest tie-break in US Open history.

Seeded 11th, Ivanisevic defeated qualifier Daniel Nestor 6-4, 7-6(5), 7-6(18) in the first round of the 1993 edition of the tournament. The 20-18 tie-break must have left him exhausted as the Croatian went on to lose his next match against Carles Costa in straight sets.


#2 Bjorn Borg vs Premjit Lall

Five-time Wimbledon champion Bjorn Borg also has the honor of playing the longest tie-break in the tournament's history. The Swede achieved the feat by beating Premjit Lall of India 20-18 in a first-set tie-break during the first round of the 1973 edition.

Borg went on to win the match 6-3, 6-4, 9-8(18). Unfortunately, the 11-time Grand Slam champion suffered a five-set loss against Roger Taylor in the quarterfinals, having been stretched to five sets in his previous two matches as well.


#1 Jo Wilfried-Tsonga vs Andy Roddick

Despite losing the longest tie-break in Australian Open history, Andy Roddick won the match in four sets
Despite losing the longest tie-break in Australian Open history, Andy Roddick won the match in four sets

The honor of playing the longest tie-break at the Australian Open belongs to Andy Roddick and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. Roddick defeated the wildcard in four sets in the first round of the 2003 edition of the tournament, but lost the first-set tie-break 20-18.

Following the 6-7(18), 7-6(2), 6-3, 6-3 victory, the sixth seed played three more tie-breaks on his way to reaching the third Australian Open semifinal of his career. However, the American fell to eventual winner Roger Federer in straight sets at the penultimate hurdle.

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Edited by Nihal Taraporvala
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