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By Erik Gudris




Each day during the Australian Open we will take a trip in our tennis time machine to relive historical moments in the tournament's history. Today we will look at a classic semifinal between Marat Safin and Andre Agassi in 2004. (So far, we've revisited: 1. John McEnroe's infamous AO banishment; 2. the "Serena Slam" 3. Federer and Tipsarevic's classic '08 clash, and 4. Mary Pierce's triumph in 1995.)5. Marat Safin outlasts Agassi in 2004.)6. Nadal Outlasts Verdasco in 2009 epic.)

(January 20, 2013) -- While we've seen plenty of men's matches go the distance and then some at the Australian Open, let's not forget a classic marathon involving two WTA stars.

"We're animals and kind of fighters against each other," said Russia's Svetlana Kuznetsova about facing Italy's Francesca Schiavone on the court. That statement held up as fact when both women played for a spot in the AO quarterfinals back in 2011. The match was expected to go the distance, especially when both women split the first two sets, but no one could have predicted how the final set would transpire.

After going down a break, Schiavone took charge and leveled things at 4-all. From there the Italian fought off three match points against her when down 8-7 and then again at 9-8. Both women received injury timeouts but pressed on with outstanding shotmaking and pushing each other to come up with their best.

At 14-all, Schiavone made her move and broke the Russian's serve to take the lead. With the third set now reaching the three hour mark, Schiavone finally closed it out with a lunging volley winner to seal the 6-4, 1-6, 16-14 victory.

The 4 hour and 44-minute marathon went down as the longest women's match ever contested at a Grand Slam.

“I think it just was really a day of Francesca," said Kuznetsova later. "We both fight so hard the whole match, and the important moments she just played better.

“To live the moment was the most important thing for me,” said Schiavone afterwards. "I hope one day to show this DVD to my son."

"Franlana" as some call it will certainly earn repeated viewing as the years go on thanks to the gutty performance of these two Grand Slam champions.


 

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