Sports

Liguori: A Classic Down Under

Novak Djokovic of Serbia poses with the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup and the clock after winning championship point and playing in the longest grand slam final ever in his men's final match against Rafael Nadal of Spain during day fourteen of the 2012 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 29, 2012 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

Novak Djokovic of Serbia poses with the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup and the clock after winning championship point and playing in the longest grand slam final ever in his men’s final match against Rafael Nadal of Spain during day fourteen of the 2012 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 29, 2012 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

By Ann Liguori
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When was the last time any major sports match or game lasted close to six hours, outside of professional men’s tennis?

One of the longest recorded games in US history involving a team sport was a baseball game in 1981 between the Pawtucket Red Sox and the Rochester Red Wings which lasted 33 innings, almost nine hours.

And yes, cricket matches can go on for days.

Chess and poker games have pushed the record books in the endurance categories. But as mentally exhausting as these mind games are, they don’t require the intense physical stamina (on top of the mental strength and endurance) that is required in a professional, best- of- five, Major tennis singles championship!

And as tough and physical as professional football, soccer, hockey and basketball games can be, with various one-on-one match-ups which can be quite intense and brutally physical, how many of those mano-a-mano match-ups continue for nearly six hours?

It’s difficult to digest the five- hour and 53 minutes grueling effort put forth by Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal in their over-the-top Australian Open Championship match this past weekend. Djokovic prevailed 5-7, 6-4, 6-2, 6-7 (5), 7-5, overcoming a break in the fifth set to win his fifth Grand Slam tournament and third straight. For close to six hours, these two beat the heck out of the ball and each other, chasing down dazzling shots and enduring relentless rallies. And this after Djokovic went nearly five hours in his semifinal match on Friday!

Tennis fans were surely treated to one of the greatest sports matches in history. What a match. What an extraordinary effort from both players. What a display of drive, stamina, strength, will and determination!

Of course, the longest match ever in tennis was the 11-hour, first round marathon match between John Isner and Nicolas Mahut at Wimbledon in 2010. Isner defeated Mahut after 11 hours, 5 minutes of play over three days with a score of 6-4, 3-6, 6-7, 7-6, 70-68!

As brutal as these tennis battles were, in 1893, the longest boxing match on record took place between Andy Bowen and Jack Burke, lasting 7 plus hours! Back then, there was no such thing as a judge’s decision. The contest didn’t end until a fighter was knocked out or gave up. According to history books, these two pummeled each other for 110 three-minute rounds! By the 111th round, both fighters were so out of it, the referee finally declared the bout a ‘no contest.’ And here’s the rest of the story: Burke had broken every bone in both of his hands and Bowen was killed during his very next fight!

Let’s hope Djokovic and Nadal both recuperate 100 percent after their spectacular and epic Australian Open Final!