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Is it possible for a tennis match to last forever?

Sports Asked on July 3, 2021

I ask this because in 2018 John Isner and Kevin Anderson had a set that latest for 50 games in one set. And in 2010, John Isner and Nicolas Mahut had a set lasting 138 games.

I understand that to win a set you must win by 2 games. So is it possible for a tennis match to actually last forever if the winner of a game kept alternating each game? Or is there a time/score limit where the officials call it?

2 Answers

Depending on the competition it is very well possible to have a match last forever. Tennis itself has no rules about a time limit. See the longest match ever played, which took 11 hours in total. Matches without a tie break in the last set are prone to take longest.

I can't verify the rules for every competition, so here are a few majors:

In Wimbledon they've changed the rules to have a tie break after a score of 12-12 in the last set, so it will be a lot harder to have matches lasting that long.

The Australian Open followed Wimbledon by introducing a final set tie break.

That leaves the French Open as the last Grand Slam without a tie break in the final set and they seem to keep it that way.

(The US Open already have a tie break rule)

Correct answer by dly on July 3, 2021

The answer depends on the scoring system used. If traditional scoring is used, then a single GAME can last forever if the score keeps going to deuce (i.e. a game is won by the first player to win four points, with a two point advantage).

A single set could last forever if tiebreaker scoring is not used (see Isner-Mahut match).

Answered by user2438292 on July 3, 2021

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