Original and complete report from THE WALL STREET JOURNAL by Matthew Futterman
In one of the longest matches in Olympic tennis history Switzerland’s RogerFederer outlasted Argentina’s Juan Martin del Potro 3-6, 7-6, 19-17 in a four-hour, 26 minute marathon that thrust the event into the spotlight after a week of existing below the Olympic radar.
This was the sort of epic match Olympic organizers had been hoping for when they put tennis in the sport’s most hallowed setting, starring the greatest player of the modern era.
Federer and Del Potro traded punches like heavyweights Friday, doing their best to pack into three sets all the drama they usually supply in five. Until the 19th game of the third set, Del Potro’s break in the eighth game of the first set was the lone one of the match.
After Federer sliced a backhand on break point at 9-9, Del Potro mis-hit the return and gave Federer his first service break of the afternoon, after 192 minutes of tennis, and the chance to serve for the match at 10-9. But Del Potro broke back at love to survive, moving Federer across the baseline and forcing the Swiss legend into a series of errors to knot the score at 10-10.
It would take another 16 games before Federer would have a chance to close out the match. When Del Potro netted a backhand, Federer raised his arms in triumph then leaned on the net in exhaustion before sharing a long embrace with his foe.
This time Federer didn’t waste his chance.