The longest matches in sports history


Patrick Newell

Thursday, professional tennis players John Isner of the United States and Nicolas Mahut of France completed the longest match in history. Over three days, the five-set matchup lasted 11 hours, 5 minutes , and that included an epic 70-68 fifth set. The fifth set – over eight hours – was in itself the longest match in history.
As a comparison, we researched the longest matches/games in other professional sports, and none compares to the length of the Isner-Mahut clash.

* In a Triple-A International League baseball game in April of 1981, Pawtucket and Rochester played 33 innings. The game was suspended after the 32nd inning (Easter morning) just past 4 a.m., and the game resumed two days later. Baseball Hall-of-Famer, Cal Ripken Jr., played for the Red Wings in that game. The total game time was eight hours and 25 minutes.

* The longest NHL game was 176 minutes, 30 seconds – a six-overtime Stanley Cup game between Detroit and the Montreal Maroons – in 1936. Total ice time was just shy of three hours, although with intermissions between every period, actual time expired from initial drop of the puck until the winning goal was probably around five hours.

* The NFL is limited to one 15-minute overtime period during the regular season, although in the playoffs, teams play as many 15-minute overtime periods as necessary to complete the game. The longest game on record went 22 minutes and 40 seconds of extra time (82 minutes, 40 seconds counting regulation time) in the 1971 AFC playoffs. In that game, Miami outlasted Kansas City, 27-24 when Garo Yepremian kicked the winning field goal midway through the second OT.

* In World Cup soccer, the length of a game is 90 minutes plus stoppage time, and overtime consists of two 15-minute periods. At that point, games are decided by a penalty kick shootout. The maximum time is 120 minutes, and that result has occurred numerous times.

* In professional golf, overtime occurs when two or more players tie for the lead at the completion of a tournament. In non-major tournaments, a sudden-death playoff ensues. The longest playoff on record is 11 holes in 1949. Cary Middlecoff and Lloyd Mangrum competed in that playoff and agreed to share the tournament title after they were unable to shake the other over 11 holes. The U.S. Open is the lone major tournament that requires an 18-hole total score playoff to determine its winner. The format has since changed, but in previous U.S. Open playoffs, if the total scores of the players tied remained deadlocked, another 18 holes were played to determine the winner. Now, if the scores are still tied after 18 holes, a sudden-death playoff follows. Tiger Woods and Rocco Mediate remained tied after their 18-hole playoff in 2008. Woods won with a par on the 19th hole.