A new chapter in tennis history was written Monday on Day One at the Australian Open, but luckily, it was only written in pencil. Gilles Muller of Luxembourg defeated Spain’s Feliciano Lopez 6-3, 7-6, 4-6, 4-6, 16-14 in a match that was originally recorded as lasting 5 hours, 35 minutes, making it the longest match in time in the history of the Australian Open. However, about two hours after the conclusion of the match, it was revealed that the PDA device used as the official scorecard of the match by the chair umpire, wrongly added 71 minutes to the time of the match – with the official time of the match actually being 4:24. Therefore, Boris Becker and Omar Camporese still hold the record for the longest match in the history of the Australian Open when Becker edged the Italian standout 7-6 (4), 7-6 (5), 0-6, 4-6, 14-12 in 5 hours, 11 minutes in the third round of the 1991.
Bud Collins, the Hall of Fame journalist and historian, documents the longest four matches in the history of the Australian Open in his authoritative new book THE BUD COLLINS HISTORY OF TENNIS ($35.95, New Chapter Press, www.tennistomes.com). They are as follows:
Longest Matches, Playing Time
5 hours, 11 minutes Boris Becker d. Omar Camporese, 7-6 (7-4), 7-6 (7-5), 0-6, 4-6, 14-12, 3rd rd., 1991
4 hours, 59 minutes Andy Roddick d. Younes El Aynaoui, 4-6, 7-6 (7-5), 4-6, 6-4, 21-19, QF, 2003. The fifth set took 2:23, Roddick saved MP in 10th game of the fifth with inside-out forehand.
4 hours, 59 minutes Pete Sampras d. Tim Mayotte 7-6, 6-7, 4-6, 7-5, 12-10, 1st round, 1990
4 hours, 51 minutes, Yannick Noah d. Roger Smith, 6-7, 5-7, 6-4, 6-2, 16-14, 1st round, 1988.
5 hours, 29 minutes Pieter Aldrich – Danie Visser, d. Scott Davis – Bob Van’t Hof, 6-4, 4-6, 7-6 (7-4), 4-6, 23-21 (last set took 2 hours, 53 minutes), quarters, 1990
3 hours, 33 minutes Chanda Rubin d. Arantxa Sanchez Vicario, 6-4, 2-6, 16-14, quarters, 1996
One of the great things about THE BUD COLLINS HISTORY OF TENNIS is that many of these statistics and lists can only be found in this book (sometimes the records that Bud has compiled are better and more detailed than the record books of the actual tournaments.)
Incidentally, the record for the longest men’s singles match in GAMES in Australian Open history came in 1970 when Dennis Ralston defeated John Newcombe in 93 games – 19-17, 20-18, 4-6, 6-3 in the quarterfinals. I actually had the pleasure of meeting Ralston for the first time this past weekend at the USPTA/New England Coaches Conference at Wentworth-by-the-Sea in Portsmouth, N.H. Ralston heard from attending coaches of my new book ON THIS DAY IN TENNIS HISTORY ($19.95, New Chapter Press, www.tennishistorybook.com) and immediate came to the New Chapter Press booth to buy a copy. Ralston was a 1987 inductee into the International Tennis Hall of Fame and best known for winning the Wimbledon doubles title in 1960 as a 17-year-old and for helping the United States to Davis Cup titles in 1963 as a player and in 1972 as a captain, the latter with dramatic away victories against Spain in the semifinals in Barcelona and the epic final against Romania in Bucharest. Tim Mayotte, who lost to Pete Sampras in the second-longest men’s singles match by time in 4 hours, 59 minutes (as document above) was also in attendance in Portsmouth. Mayotte is also the coach of the Boston Lobsters World Team Tennis franchise.