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Wimbledon match reaches epic proportions -- and it's not over yet

By the CNN Wire Staff
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: "I don't know how these guys are still standing up
  • Match is longest in Wimbledon history
  • Isner and Mahut tied at 2 sets, 59-59 in final set
  • Play suspended until Thursday

London, England (CNN) -- An early round tennis match between American John Isner and France's Nicolas Mahut at Wimbledon reached epic status Wednesday -- lasting 10 hours before play was suspended because of darkness.

The match, set to resume Thursday, already holds the record for longest grand-slam singles match, besting the previous record of 6-hours, 33-minutes set at the 2004 French Open, when Fabrice Santoro beat fellow Frenchman Arnaud Clement 6-4, 6-3, 6-7, 3-6, 16-14.

The previous-longest Wimbledon match was a men's doubles in 2006 that lasted 6-hours, 9-minutes and was played over two days, according to Wimbledon records.

The duration of Wednesday's fifth set alone, currently standing at seven hours and six minutes, eclipsed the previous record.

Isner's 99 aces and Mahut's 93 aces easily outpaced the previous record of 78.

"Nothing like this will ever happen again, ever," said Isner. "I don't know what to say."

"We played for too long, I don't know how many hours we played," said Mahut.

The match, with the two players tied at two sets apiece and 59-59 in the final set, had set a record for longest match ever at Wimbledon long before play was suspended for the day at 9:10 p.m. (4:10 p.m. ET), Wimbledon officials said.

Play was suspended as the audience chanted, "We want more!" and the two men walked off Wimbledon's Court 18 to a loud and raucous standing ovation.

In men's tennis, a player must win six games to win a set, three out of five sets to win the match (in women's tennis, the winner must take two out of three sets). The winning player must win the final set by two.

Tennis matches typically wrap up in as little as an hour to as long as five hours. Whatever happens Thursday, the 23rd-seeded Isner and the unseeded Mahut have already made history.

"We cannot confirm it was the longest in tennis history, but we can confirm it was the longest in Wimbledon history," said Henry O'Grady of Wimbledon's press office.

"I don't know how these guys are still standing up," former tennis great Martina Navratilova told CNNI. "It's beyond anything that you ever train for both physically, emotionally and mentally. This has never happened before, so you don't train for that. You just try to survive and do the best you can."