Giving tennis more than a shot



Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Milos Raonic established two records, yesterday, including the longest set of Olympic history, playing 48 games in the decisive third set (Photo: Martin Bernetti/AFP/GettyImages)


The last two days were, without a doubt, quite eventful at the London Olympics. With the rain playing again a little of a part in the proceedings, of course, but with two record-breaking marathon matches, and one huge surprise along the way.


Marathon matches

Records broken in singles…

It did not appear to be so at first and started off as a pretty routine match: Jo-Wilfried Tsonga had broken quite early in the first set, held until the end, and then the reverse happened with Milos Raonic in the second. The third set was interrupted for nearly three hours due to the rain, but when the players came back on court, that’s when it started to be… interminable.


“Just what CAN I do?” (Photo: Martin Bernetti/AFP/GettyImages)

There is no other way to see it. Both players were holding with generally relative ease, particularly the Canadian, who is known for the power of his serve, and whose serve did not fail him. Where he was particularly astonishing, however, was not in his choice weapon, but in the mental toughness he had, as he was the player who was serving from behind from the 10th game on. Raonic held with relative ease for 19 games, only conceding two match points to Tsonga in all those games, saving both with a huge serve.


The 20th time, however, he started showing signs of mental fatigue, and made a couple of errors, which quickly led to conceding three more match points to the Frenchman. After saving the first one with another big serve (his third save match point), he couldn’t do much of a drop shot from Tsonga, who then just had to softly put it away in the open court.


Just like that, it was over. After an interminable third set of exactly three hours, 3h57 of total play, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga had qualified for the round-of-16, 6-3 3-6 25-23.


“That was fun! Shall we do it again?” (Photo: AP/Mark Humphrey)

This match broke two records: with 48 games, the third set became the set with the most games in Olympic history. It also became the match with the most games (66) in a singles best-of-three match.


At the end, it was nice to see both guys smiling at each other, obviously enjoying having shared such a match together.


… and in doubles!

Shortly after the first marathon match ended, there seemed to be two more in the making, this time in doubles. If Janko Tipsarevic and Nenad Zimonjic ended Daniel Nestor’s last Olympic Games, and Vasek Pospisil’s first, at 11-9 in the third, the second one kept going on and on.


Bruno Soares (L) and Marcelo Melo of Brazil also set some Olympic records, this time in doubles (Photo: Martin Bernetti/AFP/GettyImages)

Very few seemed to follow it, as it was taking place on a non-TV court, but it remained that when darkness interrupted the match for the night, Tomas Berdych/Radek Stepanek and Marcelo Melo/Bruno Soares were in an impasse at 18-18, to be completed today. The Brazilians, serving from behind, had already had to save four match points before the interruption, and faced none today.


Melo and Soares broke in the 45th game, and ended up defeating the Czech team 1-6 6-4 24-22, after 4h21. In the wake, the match has broken two Olympic Doubles records: that of the most games played in a set (46) and in a match (63). They came within two games of the record set by Tsonga and Raonic for the most games played in a set in Olympic history.


Nevertheless, it is quite an epic win for the Brazilian team, who will play… Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and his partner, Michaël Llodra, in quarter-finals, tomorrow.


Coming up… A Huge Surprise On Day 5 (and the men’s quarter-finalists)


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