Tiebreaks can, of course, be some of the most dramatic moments in tennis. They occur at the end of sets, and can often decide the winner of the match.
One of the most memorable tiebreaks was during the Wimbledon 1980 final between Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe. The latter managed to save five Championship points during the tiebreak, meaning that had he lost that point, Borg would have won the final. He ended up winning a mammoth tiebreak 18-16, making the score of the match 2-2.
Borg ended up winning the final set 8-6, making the match one of the instant classics.
The longest tiebreak on record occurred in January 2013. It happened at Plantation, Florida, during qualifications for the $10,000 Men’s Futures tournament. Benito Camelas overcame Jorge Nitales in a 178 point tiebreaker with a score of 90-88.
There was no official match umpire, but the ITF and ATP verify the score.
At Grand Slam level, the longest tiebreaks recorded have all been at a score of 20-18.
- Goran Ivanisevic beat Daniel Nestor 20-18 in a 1993 US Open first-round match.
- Jo-Wilfried Tsonga beat Andy Roddick 20-18 in the 2007 Australian Championships.
Classic on clay
Marco Cecchinato defeated Novak Djokovic 12-10 in a classic French Open quarterfinal in 2018. Many consider it to be the best tiebreak ever to happen on clay. Cecchinato had to dig deep to save several Djokovic set points, making some astounding shots.
Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, two of tennis’ most recent greats, are often referred to as ‘Fedal’ when appearing at events together. The pair produced one of the greatest Wimbledon finals in 2008, in a match that lasted more than 5 hours.
At the end of the 4th set, they played out a thrilling tiebreak, which was won 10-8 by Roger Federer. He saved a couple of match points during the tiebreak with his trademark backhand.
Nadal went on to win the final 3-2.