Tennishead, in anticipation of Roland Garros, explores the history of the other three Grand Slams and the longest match ever played on Parisian soil.
Novak Djokovic Beat Rafael Nadal in the 2012 Australian Open Final. Five Hours and 53 Minutes Later, The Score Was 5-7, 6-4, 6-2, 6-7(5), 7-5.
In addition to being the longest Australian Open final in history, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal’s match was the longest Grand Slam singles final of the Open Era, surpassing the previous mark established by Mats Wilander and Ivan Lendl in the 1988 US Open Final.
Both players, as the top and second seeds in Melbourne, performed at their absolute best in what is widely considered to be one of the greatest tennis matches of all time.
Both players exchanged breaks to make it 5-5 in the first set, but Nadal eventually got the break he needed to win the set. When Nadal was serving to stay in the match at 5-4 in the second set, Djokovic broke his serve to even the match.
Djokovic, who had just played a five-set semi-final against Andy Murray, showed no symptoms of fatigue in the shortest set of the match, breaking Nadal’s serve twice to win the match. The set was 45 minutes long despite the Serbian losing serve only twice.
The fourth set went to a tiebreak, which Nadal won 7-5 after scoring four straight games in an effort to keep the match alive. An hour and forty-two minutes is one of the longest sets ever documented.
Nadal rode the momentum of his triumph in the fourth set to grab a 4-2 lead in the final set and put one hand on the trophy in the sixth game. Djokovic, though, broke back immediately to even the score at 4-4, and then broke serve again for the match-winning point at 1:37 a.m. the following day.
For The First Round of the 2004 French Open, Fabrice Santoro Defeated Arnaud Clement. 6 Hours, 33 Minutes, 6-4, 6-3, 6-7(5), 3-6, 16-14.
Fabrice Santoro had just finished a gruelling six-hour match against Arnaud Clement, and he was laying face down on the red ground, sobbing into his towel in front of the Suzanne Lenglen crowd.
Its final score was remarkable enough, but it also held the record for the longest match of any kind from 1968 until 2010. That record had previously been held by the legendary Davis Cup match between John McEnroe and Mats Wilander, which lasted 6 hours and 22 minutes.
A lovely pairing, as Santoro put it. It was our best crowd ever, and we played on a beautiful court in Paris. It’s great to know that even at my advanced age, I can still play tennis for six hours, even if that doesn’t break any records.
Clement, who was only 21 when Santoro was 26, did not shake Santoro’s hand firmly when they met for the Davis Cup.
Clement added, “Frankly, I don’t give a damn,” which is a pretty blunt way of putting it. “What’s the world record?” If I did well, would I be awarded a medal? If there is nothing in it for me, I have no interest. It’s irrelevant.