Top 10 longest WTA matches in the Open Era: Francesca Schiavone and Svetlana Kuznetsova feature twice

Francesca Schiavone delighted

Sara Sorribes Tormo and Camila Giorgi spent three hours and 51 minutes on court during a clash at the Italian Open this week and their encounter comfortably made it into the top 10 longest WTA matches in the Open Era.

Their effort, though, is still some way short off the top spot, but on the back of their opening-round marathon in Rome, here are the top 10 longest WTA matches in Open Era history.

10. Three hours and 45 minutes

The honour of the longest match in Wimbledon history goes to Chanda Rubin and Patricia Hy-Boulais as the pair produced a three-hour and 45-minute affair in the second round at the All England Club in 1985 and the record still stands today.

Rubin emerged victorious with a 7-6 (7–4), 6-7 (5–7), 17-15 scoreline with the final set alone taking more than two hours to complete.

“I think we were both just happy to sit down,” Hy-Boulais was quoted as saying by the New York Times while Rubin said “It was kind of a Yo-Yo going on; we were friends before the match, and you’re never going to forget a match like this”.

9. Three hours and 47 minutes

In the only best-of-five match to feature on the list, 16-year-old Monica Seles and 20-year-old Gabriela Sabatini battled for three hours and 47 minutes in the final of the Virginia Slims Championships in New York in 1990.

It was the first the first time in women’s tennis in 89 years that a deciding fifth set was played as second seed Seles won 6-4, 5-7, 3-6, 6-4, 6-2 to walk away with a $250,000 cheque.

“It was an unbelievable match,” Seles said. “We both played great. Women’s tennis is at its best right now.”

8. Three hours and 48 minutes

The 2016 Fed Cup between the Czech Republic and France dished up a three-hour and 48 minute titanic battle between Karolina Pliskova and Kristina Mladenovic.

Pliskova initially led 5-2 in the decider before her French opponent mounted a comeback, but the Czech eventually prevailed 6-3, 6-4, 16-14.

“I feel fresh actually,” Pliskova told Fed after the match. “It’s my longest match I played ever. I’m really happy with the way it ended.”

The third set lasted two hours and 24 minutes and is the longest set in Fed Cup history.

7. Three hours and 50 minutes

The first of two entries for Francesca Schiavone and Svetlana Kuznetsova as the former Grand Slam champions were involved in a three-hour 50 minute clash in the second round of the 2015 French Open.

Italian Schiavone won the encounter with the final score 6-7 (11-13), 7-5, 10-8.

“With Svetlana I think we can play hours and hours and hours because we know each other exactly,” she said. “She is amazing, and every time I play against her I say, Oh, my God, now what can happen?”

6. Three hours and 51 minutes

New entrants Sara Sorribes Tormo and Camila Giorgi hit the list at No 6 after their three-hour and 51 minute encounter in the first round of the 2021 Italian Open.

The first set lasted one hour and 18 minutes, the second was one hour and 33 minutes and the decider “only” 59 minutes as Sorribes Tormo won 7-6 (7-4), 6-7 (7-9), 7-5.

5. Three hours and 55 minutes

The oldest match on the list goes back to the 1972 French Open when Kerry Melville Reid and Pam Teeguarden’s match was just five minutes shy of four hours.

The match – won 7-6(7), 4-6, 16-14 by Australian Melville Reid – topped the list for more than a decade before sliding down the order.

4. Four hours and seven minutes

The first-ever four-hour women’s tennis match in the Open Era took place in 1995 with Virginie Buisson and Noelle van Lottum battling it out for 247 minutes in total at the French Open.

Buisson won the encounter between the two French wildcards, securing a 6-7 (3-7), 7-5, 6-2 victory.

3. Four hours and 19 minutes

Barbora Strycova and Regina Kulikova spent 259 minutes on court in the first round at the 2010 Australian, which – at the time – was the longest effort in Grand Slams.

After the opening two sets were settled via tie-breakers, Strycova “eased” home with a 7-6 (7-5), 6-7 (10-12), 6-3 victory.

2. Four hours and 44 minutes

Francesca Schiavone and Svetlana Kuznetsova were clearly the WTA’s marathon women as they feature for a second on the list with the Italian and Russian slugging it out for four hours and 44 minutes at the 2011 Australian Open.

Schiavone won 6-7 (11-13), 7-5, 10-8, saying afterwards: “It was for me personally really fantastic.

“I hope one day to show this DVD to my son. It is one of the most emotional moments of my life. I just told myself to keep going, do it with the heart and go for it.”

Russian Kuznetsova admitted it was a hard pill to swallow.

“I just feel very empty,” she said. “Maybe in a few days I will watch the video and understand more about it. It’s too hard to talk about it right now.”

1. Six hours and 31 minutes

Vicki Nelson-Dunbar and Jean Hepner’s 1984 first-round clash in Richmond took an incredible 391 minutes to complete.

Nelson-Dunbar won the match that, incredibly, was only two sets as she secured a 6-4, 7-6 (13-11) victory.

And even more bizarrely, the tie-breaker alone lasted one hour and 47 minutes with one rally featuring a mind-blowing 643 shots and taking 29 minutes to complete.

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