During the first week of the 2010 French Open, we've already witnessed a lot of the drama that goes with arguably, the toughest Grand Slam of the year. Rain and darkness have plagued the matches, making some of them even carry over to the following day.
There have already been 17 five-set matches in men's singles, 20 three-set matches in women's singles and 19 three-set matches in all of the doubles divisions combined.
Sixth seed, Andy Roddick had a five-set battle in the first round against Jarkko Nieminen of Finland, after cruising through the first set.
In a second round, Italy's Fabio Fognini defeated one of France's biggest stars, 13 seed, Gael Monfils 2-6, 4-6, 7-5, 6-4, 9-7. Minutes before 10 p.m. on Wednesday, the match was suspended due to darkness, later than any other match. This was quite a controversy, one which sparked inspiration for this countdown of longest matches in French Open history.
On May 24, 2004, two of France's biggest tennis stars squared off in a battle of wills. They fought for six hours and 33 minutes, with Santoro finally defeating Clement 6-4, 6-3, 6-7, 3-6, 16-14. All of that, was to just get out of the first round.
In 1951, before the introduction of the tiebreak, Eric Sturgess defeated Ken McGregor in the semifinals 10-8, 7-9, 8-6, 5-7, 9-7. Throughout his career, Sturgess reached three Grand Slam singles finals, but never won the title. However, he won the doubles title at the 1947 French Championships and the mixed doubles title at Wimbledon in 1949 and 1950.
In 1994, Ronald Agenor of Haiti defeated David Prinosil of the Czech Republic 6-7(4), 6-7(2), 6-3, 6-4, 14-12. This battle took place in the second round, the longest match in total number of games (71) since the introduction of the tiebreaker. Agenor and Prinosil share this record with Fabrice Santoro, Arnaud Clement and most recently, Lukas Lacko and Michael Yani.
In 1927, Rene Lacoste and "Big" Bill Tilden ground it out on the clay, to see who would take the French Open men's singles title. This was the longest singles final in number of games (61) before the introduction of the tiebreak. Lacoste defeated Tilden 6-4, 4-6, 5-7, 6-3, 11-9.
Pictured: Lacoste, in his iconic alligator embroidered polo shirt, kin 2004.
In a 1971, all-American affair, Arthur Ashe and Marty Riessen defeated Tom Gorman and Stan Smith in the longest men's doubles final in Grand Slam history. It was the longest in number of games (63) and come-from-behind victory, 6-8, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, 11-9. They share this record with four predecessors; Jean Borotra, Jacques Brugnon, Jack Crawford and Vivian McGrath, who did it in 1934.
In a 1972 third round match, Kerry Melville Reid defeated Pam Teeguarden 9-7, 4-6, 16-14. It was the longest women's singles match, in number of games (56), before the introduction of the tiebreaker.
In 1955, the American pair of Beverly Baker Fleitz and Darlene Hard defeated British pair, Shirley Brasher Bloomer and Patricia Ward Hales 7-5, 6-8, 13-11. It was the longest women's doubles match, according to the number of games (50), because it was before the introduction of the tiebreaker.
Shirley Brasher Bloomer shows up again in our list, this time, in the 1958 mixed doubles final. Bloomer partnered with Nicola Pietrangeli and defeated Robert Howe and Lorraine Coghlan Robinson 9-7, 6-8, 6-2. This was before the introduction of the tiebreaker and it went on for 38 games.