The long and shot of it
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International record books will not be revised for this one, and tennis officials will certainly not ratify it with an official marathon-mention. But for the pair of Taipei youngsters Ting Yu Chuang and Jui-Chen Hung, Monday proved to be one never-ending slugfest under the sapping Mumbai sun as they played out a 4 hour 5 minute qualifying match of the ITF Men's $15,000 Futures at the CCI courts, one of the longest best of 3 sets-without tiebreak scoring affairs on the circuit. When 22-year-old Hung emerged sweating buckets and a little disoriented from the winning effort, a couple of things had happened. His opponent had chucked his n-th, drenched playing shirt, and walked away into the Marine Drive sunset, dead tired. The chair umpire was speaking at an oddly loud hoarse pitch, not quite tempering his voice after hours of screaming down scores from his vantage. Two matches scheduled for Court 1 where the two Taiwanese had been battling had been wrapped up, and the third in line - a doubles foursome awaited their call-up. And finally, a whole 245 minutes after the match had begun at 12.35, Indian fifth-seed Saketh Myneni knew his main-round opponent after Chuang's tame return was hit wide at 4.40 pm and CCI and perhaps India had its longest-ever ITF qualifier.
Someone joked that this was easily the longest tennis match played at CCI, and you could point to the green wall coverings on which a metal plate could be nailed like they did after that Isner-Mahut protracted epic at Wimbledon which went to 70-68 in the fifth. Officially, of course, the longest three-setter is Roger Federer's Olympic semifinal win over del Potro (4 h and 26 min - 58 games). It was the longest three-set men's singles match since tennis turned professional in 1968, besting the 4:03 contest between Djokovic and Spain's Rafael Nadal in Madrid in 2009. Unratified - yet recorded - evidence exists of a 4:37 minute-match between Andre Gaspar Murta of Portugal and Matthieu Vierin of Italy 7-5, 6-7, 6-4 in 4 hours and 37 minutes. "You could call it one of the longest best of three, without tie-break rules match. But we don't keep ITF time duration records of qualifiers," said an ITF spokesman. "There isn't a longer recorded qualifying match of an ITF Futures, but there's no way of telling!" he added, quashing to riff-raff all hopes of a record. But numbers are for pedants; spectators are content with the drama. And so the CCI marathon raged on.