The longest deuce rallies of all time

the longest deuce rallies
Photo by Icon Sport

In a momentous clash on Centre Court during Wimbledon 2023, the tennis world witnessed an extraordinary exchange between Carlos Alcaraz and the formidable Novak Djokovic. It was a game that defied expectations and etched itself into the annals of Wimbledon history.

In the fifth game of the third set, Alcaraz managed to break Djokovic’s serve after an astonishing 13 deuces, a battle that stretched on for a staggering 26 minutes. To put it in perspective, the entire first set was only eight minutes longer than this epic game.

This encounter set new benchmarks in the Wimbledon finals, establishing itself as the longest game in a men’s final by points played, totaling 32. Surpassing the previous record set by Roger Federer and Andy Murray in 2012, this game showcased the endurance and determination of both players on the grandest stage of tennis.

While it stands as the joint-second longest game by points played in men’s singles at Wimbledon overall, its significance transcends statistical records. As we reflect on the remarkable exchange between Alcaraz and Novak at Wimbledon, it becomes evident that the allure of tennis lies not only in its present-day excitement but also in its rich tapestry of historic encounters.

Let’s look at legendary rallies of the past that transcended the boundaries of myth and fiction. Each match represents a unique chapter in the sport’s history, reminding us of the enduring spirit and legacy of tennis across generations.

Longest Deuce Rally

In October 1984, at a Virginia Slims tournament in Richmond, Virginia, USA, tennis witnessed an unprecedented spectacle of endurance and determination. Competitors Vicki Nelson and Jean Hepner took to the court, unaware that they were about to etch their names into the annals of the sport’s history. What ensued was a match of epic proportions, marked by a deuce rally that would captivate audiences for decades to come.

With each stroke, the tension mounted, and the crowd held its breath as the ball passed over the net a staggering 643 times, setting a record for the longest deuce rally in tournament play. The match itself lasted for an exhausting 6 hours and 22 minutes, pushing both players to their physical and mental limits. In the end, Nelson emerged victorious with a hard-fought 6-4, 7-6 victory, clinching the match with a grueling 1 hour and 47-minute tiebreak that ended 13-11.

This historic encounter between Nelson and Hepner not only showcased the incredible skill and endurance of the athletes but also highlighted the unique drama and unpredictability that make tennis such a captivating sport. It remains a testament to the unwavering dedication and passion displayed by players at the highest level of competition.

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