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Last Updated: Tuesday, 25 May, 2004, 13:33 GMT 14:33 UK
Santoro seals historic win
Fabrice Santoro
France's Fabrice Santoro took six hours 33 minutes to see off compatriot Arnaud Clement at the French Open, the longest singles match in modern history.

Santoro defeated the 32nd seed 6-4 6-3 6-7 3-6 16-14 in the first round.

The match was halted at 5-5 in the decider on Monday and there was little to separate the pair when they resumed.

Santoro secured the decisive break at 14-14 and though Clement had three chances to break back, the unseeded Frenchman held on.

The previous longest match had taken place in 1998 when Spaniard Alex Corretja beat Argentina's Hernan Gumy in five hours 31 minutes, also at Roland Garros.

"It's an exceptional moment," said Santoro.

"More than victory, the intensity of the match and the strong emotions out there are what you're looking for when you become a professional tennis player."

The match also equalled the highest number of games played at the French Open since the introduction of tie-breaks in 1973, with 71 games.

However, Clement, who failed to convert two match points, was understandably distraught after his epic defeat.

"What do I get? A medal? I'm not interested," said Clement.

"Anyway it lasted over two days so it doesn't count.

"I don't have the impression you make history when you lose a game in six hours and 30 minutes. You make history when you win a grand slam or the Davis Cup."


WATCH AND LISTEN
BBC Five Live's Jonathan Overend
"Santoro wept for several minutes on his chair at the end"



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