A remarkable piece of skill from Kevin Anderson proved to be the turning point as the South African finally got the better of John Isner.
Anderson needed six hours and 36 minutes to see off Isner 7-6 (8-6) 6-7 (5-7) 6-7 (9-11) 6-4 26-24 in a truly epic Wimbledon encounter featuring 102 aces, 96 service games but just six breaks.
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Neither man looked like dropping serve in the incredible fifth set, until Isner blinked at 24-24.
At 0-15, Isner thought he was about to make it 15-15 when Anderson slipped over after returning a serve, but the South African somehow managed to recover and hit the next ball back left-handed.
A stunned Isner was forced to keep rallying, and he eventually hit the ball wide to give Anderson a huge sniff at 0-30.
The amazing moment proved to be a major turning point as Anderson grabbed the vital break before serving it out to win 26-24.
The match was the second-longest in professional tennis history, behind only Isner’s record-setting 11-hour, five-minute first-round Wimbledon triumph over Frenchman Nicolas Mahut in 2010.
“I don’t really know what to say right now,” said Anderson.
“Just playing like that in those conditions, it was really tough for both of us.
“John’s such a great guy and I really feel for him because if I’d been on the opposite side, I don’t know if I could take that, playing for so long and coming up short.
“You feel like this is a draw for the two of us, but somebody has to win.
“So I apologise if I’m not more excited right now because the mix of emotions getting through something like that is quite different.”