As Sam Stosur's record-breaking 17-15 tiebreaker in the second set against Maria Kirilenko at the US Open carried on and on and on, and on some more, the Australian got a bit caught up in all the drama.
"I lost track of the score. Didn't know at one point if I was serving or receiving or when we should be changing ends, what was going on," Stosur said. "The crowd was really into it. Couldn't really hear myself think at times because it was so loud out there. ... But, yeah, it was a shame I didn't win it."
Yes, Kirilenko won that 32-point tiebreaker, which was the longest between women at a grand slam tournament. Stosur, though, won their fourth-round match 2-6, 7-6 (15), 6-3 on Sunday night to reach the US Open quarterfinals for the second consecutive year. After wasting five match points in the marathon tiebreaker, Stosur managed to regroup for the third set.
"I processed that disappointment well. I thought, 'OK, how am I going to play this next set and start from scratch all over again?' I think I was able to bounce back really well," said Stosur, the 2010 French Open runner-up who is seeded ninth in New York. "That's probably the most pleasing thing for me to get out of that match, is just to be able to come back from that."
Said Kirilenko: "I was tired after the tiebreaker. It was very emotional."
The tiebreaker was filled with swings of momentum and thrilling exchanges. Three points ended with line calls in favor of Stosur, only to be reversed when the 25th-seeded Kirilenko challenged them.
At 14-all, Stosur double-faulted to set up Kirilenko's fifth set point. But Kirilenko dumped a forehand into the net to make it 15-all, then flipped her racket end-over-end high in the air.
On the next point, Stosur put a backhand into the net for 16-15. And that's where the tiebreaker that would not end did end, with a 13-stroke exchange capped by Stosur's errant forehand.
The second set alone lasted 1 hour, 24 minutes, and the full match went 2:37, which actually might have seemed rather easygoing to Stosur, whose third-round match on Friday went 3:16, breaking the women's record for most time on court at the US Open.
"I actually feel better after this match than what I did the last match. I guess that's a good thing," Stosur said. "Who knows how I'll feel tomorrow morning?"
She also happens to have won the latest-ending women's match in tournament history, finishing off her victory over Elena Dementieva in last year's fourth round at 1:35am. That allowed Stosur to become the first Australian woman since Wendy Turnbull in 1986 to reach the quarterfinals at Flushing Meadows.
"She's a very strong girl, and she's very muscular, as well," Kirilenko said. "Her tennis is similar to the guys. ... I like her game."
The tiebreaker system was adopted in 1970, and the longest one in a US Open men's match was 20-18, won by Goran Ivanisevic against Daniel Nestor in the third set of a 1993. According to the WTA, the longest previous grand slam tiebreaker on record for women went to 16-14, in a 1999 French Open first-round match between Stephanie Foretz and Nathalie Dechy.