Nestor-Knowles make Grand Slam doubles history
WIMBLEDON, England -- After two days of tennis, Daniel Nestor and Mark Knowles just wanted their Wimbledon doubles quarterfinal match against Simon Aspelin and Todd Perry to be over -- one way or another.
"It got to the point where [you're thinking], 'Can we arm-wrestle? Or can we do something else just to end this? Play two-on-two hoops or something?'" Knowles said Wednesday. "We thought we'd been in every position possible, but we'd never been in this situation before."
Nor had anyone else.
Knowles of the Bahamas and Nestor of Canada beat Aspelin of Sweden and Perry of Australia 5-7, 6-3, 6-7 (5), 6-3, 23-21 in 6 hours, 9 minutes, making it the longest singles or doubles match by time in Wimbledon history -- and the longest doubles match at any Grand Slam tournament.
The fifth set alone lasted more than three hours, and the match was played over two days; it was suspended by darkness Tuesday night with the fifth set tied 11-11.
"It definitely wasn't humorous for me," Nestor said. "At times I was wondering if it was ever going to end."
As for setting the record, Knowles said: "I'm excited about it, especially since we won. It would have been different if we lost."
They saved six match points in the fifth set.
The previous record for longest doubles match at a major was 5:29, when Pieter Aldrich and Danie Visser of South Africa beat Scott Davis and Robert Van't Hof of the United States at the 1990 Australian Open. That also ended 23-21 in the fifth set.
On Court 2 at the All England Club, Knowles-Nestor and Aspelin-Perry held serve through the first 26 games of the final set.
Knowles and Nestor earned the first break to go up 14-13, but Knowles put an overhead into the net to let their opponents break back. Later, Nestor-Knowles trailed 21-20 but won three consecutive games, with Knowles' forehand winner earning the break of Perry in the set's 43rd game.
"I was just praying that I was going to turn into Roger Federer at that point -- just be able to hit an ace," Knowles said.
He and Nestor compiled a 28-5 edge in aces but also committed 45 unforced errors.
"We were praying for a tiebreaker at one point in the fifth set," Nestor said. "I wasn't sure if we were going to break again after that one time we did. They were holding serve pretty easily."
Aspelin's forehand went long on match point, allowing Nestor and Knowles to advance to a semifinal against No. 1 seeds Mike and Bob Bryan of the United States.
The longest previous match at Wimbledon in time was Greg Holmes' 5-7, 6-4, 7-6 (5), 4-6, 14-12 victory over Todd Witsken in 5:28 in the second round of singles in 1989.
The old record for longest Wimbledon doubles match was 5:05, when Heinz Gunthardt of Switzerland and Balazs Taroczy of Hungary beat Paul Annacone of the United States of Christo Van Rensburg of South Africa 24-22 in the fifth set in 1985.
Gunthardt and Tarozcy happened to be playing in an over-45 doubles match on a nearby court Wednesday at Wimbledon.
Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press
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