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Isner bids for Grand finale after marathon match

John Isner hopes his 11-hour victory over Nicolas Mahut in the first round of Wimbledon does not come to overshadow the rest of his professional career.

But he hinted he may have to win a Grand Slam to shake off his tag as the man from the marathon match.

Isner finally brought a halt to the longest contest in tennis history yesterday as he broke the serve of Mahut in the 138th game of their monumental deciding set to seal a 6-4 3-6 6-7 (7/9) 7-6 (7/3) 70-68 victory.

After 11 hours and five minutes on a packed Court 18 and with a raft of records shattered, 23rd seed Isner found two key winners to break the resistance of the battling Frenchman, who served to stay in the match no fewer than 63 times before coming unstuck.

The pair first walked on court on Tuesday, after which both men etched themselves into tennis folklore by producing the longest match in tennis history in terms of number of games — 183 in total — and duration, and the highest number of aces — 215 between them — in a single match.

In keeping with the match he had just completed, a marathon press conference followed for 25-year-old Isner, who conceded he runs the risk of becoming defined by three crazy days in south-west London.

“This one's obviously going to stick with me probably the rest of my life really,” Isner said. “But I hope it doesn't define my career.

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“I think I have what it takes to do some really big things in this game.

“Obviously the four biggest tournaments of the year are the Grand Slams; I have probably a good seven, eight years left to try to make a good run at them.

“So hopefully this won't be the thing that I'm most remembered about.”

Isner's success in unlocking the Mahut serve brought an end to a run of 168 consecutive service holds stretching back to the second game of the second set on Tuesday, and the American was at a loss to understand why both players struggled to fathom the other's serve.

“I can't explain that,” he said. “Obviously both players were serving really well. That's the main thing.

“But even in that case, you can't even imagine it going past 20-all.

“I guess it was just meant to be. In a way I'm kind of glad it happened, although I am pretty tired.

“It's pretty nice to be a part of that match.”

Despite the problems both men had in forcing the breakthrough during the eight-hour final set, Isner dismissed suggestions of introducing a tie-break in deciders.

“I don't think so. Nothing like this [will] happen again,” the American added.

“Not even come close, so I think just keep it the same.”

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