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OLGAY BÜYÜKKAYALI

Lucky us, tennis fans!

The famous Tournoi de Roland-Garros or French Open will start in a week. Given what happened in the previous two grand slams, it feels like we got a treat (and new records) coming our way. 

What do we want on a sport final? 

Not a one-way street obviously... We want a thriller, suspense, and excitement in such a degree that we can’t watch certain moments of the game. If I tell you1998 NBA Finals with Jordan, Pippen, Rodman’s the “unforgettabulls”, Galatasaray-Arsenal UEFA cup final, Usain Bolt Beijing Olympics, Euro 2008 Turkey-Germany semifinal, you will understand what I mean...

Novak and Rafa after the 5hr53 min final of 2012 Australian open, longest tennis grand-slam-final in history. They do not only set example with their work ethic, professionalism and competitive spirit, but also show true sportsmanship with their outmost respect to each other.  AP photo

Tennis is getting there in the current era, creating that el clásico feeling more and more in recent years. I am getting used to getting text messages on final days such as “this is faster than play station!”, “i can’t watch it anymore” ...thanks to the big four (Djokovic, Nadal, Federer and Murray). They are raising the bar for themselves, and raising our adrenaline on the couch! 

Current competition gives the best bang for the buck to the fans - the champions are getting fitter (physically & mentally) resulting in longer games. The champions of the current era, Rafa Nadal, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic broke the longest final records for the three slams between them: 

Australian Open 2012 Final – 5hr 53 min! (a total of 369 points played),

US Open 2011 Final– 4hr 10min (352 points played),

Wimbledon 2008 Final– 4hr48 min (413 points played). 

Of course, we had other very long games too:

2009 Wimbledon final between Roddick and Federer got 436 points (this is record in number of points, but not in minutes thanks to quicker points with big servers Roddick and Federer). 

Del Potro – Federer final of US Open 2012 was 4hr 19min.Federer - Djokovic semifinal from US open 2011 (which lasted nearly 4 hrs) and Australian Open 2012 semifinal between Murray & Djokovic (that lasted nearly 5 hrs). As a result, us lucky bunch, the tennis fans, had 50 mins longer grandslam-finals on average the past five years than the decade preceding that. 

Young Mats Wilander, 18 at the time, was an unseeded player for 1982 French Open. He won the tournament beating Guillermo Vilas in 4hr42 minutes. That match is still longest final record for Roland-Garros. Maybe Mats will be commentating on his broken record broken this year at his TV program, Eurosport’s Game, Set and Mats

So, that number crunch brings me to my big point…The only record not broken on longest grand slam finals in recent years is the Roland-Garros one. The tournament is played on red clay, i.e, the slowest of all surfaces. The current longest game record on French Open finals is 20 years old (4hr 42 mins). I don’t know who will break it, but looking at the way things are going, that record may not be long-lasting.


The record broken by these guys won’t be easy to break. It was not in a final, but on a 1st round game in Wimbledon 2010 between John Isner and Nicolas Mahut. It lasted 11hr5min, played over three days, longest tennis game in history. Yes, the one smiling, John Isner won. Isner hit 113 aces in that game (world record in a single match) and lost his match after without an ace 0-3. They took their time to break serve, as they held their serve 168 games (84 games each)!  Better late than never… 



Olgay Buyukkayali is a recreational tennis player who is an RPTeurope-qualified-coach. 

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