At 35 games all, France's Nicolas Mahut probably would not have guessed how much longer his match with USA's John Isner would go on. Photograph: Dave Thompson/PA Somewhere around five hours into the final set of the longest game of tennis ever seen in the professional game, with an increasingly sunburned crowd leaning on the metal barriers of court 18 for support, Sue Barker summed up the mood for TV viewers: "Is this match ever going to end?" Apparently not. Tonight, France's Nicolas Mahut and John Isner from the US, two of the lesser known names on the men's singles circuit, remained deadlocked on two sets each and both with 59 games in the longest fifth set ever, of the longest tennis match ever. Over nine hours in length, with more than six hours of it the absurdly epic final set, it remains unclear which player will crack first, both holding serve continuously in the final set, but it was Mahut who implored the officials to take the players off shortly after 9pm as he could no longer clearly see the ball. Even before the players began warming up shortly after lunch they had already played out something of an epic, which ended on Tuesday evening tied at two sets each following, even then, 45 games of thunderous tennis. Even then, no one expected what was to follow. Isner and Mahut proceeded to play out the longest single set, and match, ever seen, the hulking 6ft 9in Isner also taking the Wimbledon record for the most aces in a single match for good measure, slamming more than 90 past his comparatively diminutive 6ft 3in opponent. As news of the epic spread around Wimbledon, ever greater crowds packed around the stands, while BBC2 abandoned games involving Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic to focus on what would otherwise have been a relatively minor encounter between a little known duo. Mahut, 28, is more of a journeyman, ranked 148 in the world, against his 23rd seed opponent, one of the biggest – and hardest-hitting – players on the tour. The atmosphere around the court changed slowly from excitement to wonder and finally a slightly hysterical disbelief. As the players dragged themselves across the court with increasingly leaden feet following a day that reached temperatures of 28 degrees, the TV commentators began to sound worried. "Something surely has to give?" Boris Becker asked in seeming desperation. The winner is due on court for his second round match later tomorrow, presuming a conclusion is eventually reached. The loser will have to be consoled with a cheque for £11,250, and maybe immortality as a future Trivial Pursuit question.