By Randy Walker
An Olympic marathon took place Tuesday at Wimbledon but it didn’t involve any nation’s track and field teams.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France and Milos Raonic of Canada played the longest best-of-three-set match – and the longest set ever – in Olympic tennis history as Tsonga edged out a 6-3, 3-6, 25-23 second-round decision.
The match lasted 3 hours and 56 minutes – almost double the amount of time it takes for Olympic marathon runners to complete their 26.2 mile marathon run – in the longest best-of-three set men’s match on record at the Games. The previous record for longest best-of-three set match – and longest set – in Olympic history was set in 1988 when Carling-Bassett-Seguso and Jill Hetherington of Canada defeated Mercedes Paz and Gabriela Sabatini of Argentina 7-6, 5-7, 20-18 in 63 total games in the first round of women’s doubles in Seoul, South Korea.
The previous longest best-of-three-set men’s singles match on record in Olympic history came when Chilean Fernando Gonzalez defeated American Taylor Dent 6-4, 2-6, 16-14 in 3 hours, 25 minutes in the 2004 bronze medal match.
“For me it’s good because this is the only way to write my name in history for the moment,” Tsonga was quoted post-match on Agence France Presse. “With Rafa (Nadal), Roger (Federer) and Novak (Djokovic), even Andy (Murray), it’s tough to go through big tournaments. So I’m really happy. I hope I will have some more (history).”
After the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona, the International Tennis Federation and the International Olympic Committee changed the men’s singles and doubles format from best-of-five-set matches to best-of-three set matches, except for the gold medal matches.
In best-of-five set matches, Gordon Lowe of Great Britain and Augustos Zerlendis of Greece played the longest match in games in Olympic tennis history – 76 games in Lowe’s 14-12, 8-10, 5-7, 6-4, 6-4 win at the 1920 Antwerp Games, in what some media outlets have reported lasting approximately six hours. In matches by time, Simon Aspelin and Thomas Johansson of Sweden defeated Arnaud Clement and Michael Llodra of France 7-6 (6), 4-6, 19-17 in 2008 doubles semifinals in 4 hours, 46 minutes, while in singles, Boris Becker beats Christian Ruud, 1992 Olympic first round 3-6, 7-6 (7-2), 5-7, 7-6 (7-2), 6-3 in 4 hours 42 minutes.
To read more about all Olympic tennis records anecdotes and results, download the Amazon.com KINDLE ebook OLYMPIC TENNIS: AN HISTORICAL SNAPSHOT available for $2.99 here: http://www.amazon.com/Olympic-Tennis-Historical-Snapshot-ebook/dp/B008EOXW40/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1343757296&sr=1-1&keywords=olympic+tennis+randy+walker