McEnroe, Stich team up for longest doubles final But after 4 1/2 hours, it's still not over

July 06, 1992|By Don Markus

WIMBLEDON, England -- The longest doubles final in Wimbledon history -- a five-set, 73-game men's championship -- was suspended last night because of darkness.

John McEnroe and Michael Stich were tied with fourth seeds Richey Reneberg and Jim Grabb at 13-13 in the final set. They had played 4 hours, 27 minutes.

NBC cut away for the U.S.-Venezuela basketball game at 4 p.m. EDT with the match tied at 10-10 in the fifth set. That was after the network had extended its tennis coverage by one hour.

"We provided an hour extra of commercial-free tennis coverage when we could have left at 3," network spokesman Ed Markey said. "We had a commitment to basketball, and we made the decision to go to that."

On Saturday, NBC missed the last two games of Steffi Graf's win over Monica Seles in the women's final, cutting away during a rain delay with Graf leading 4-1 in the second set. NBC showed the end of the women's match before the men's final yesterday morning.

In the men's doubles, McEnroe and Stich, who were unseeded, had lost the first set, 7-5, and the third, 6-3, but had won the other two in tiebreakers. Reneberg and Grabb had two match points on Stich's serve earlier in the match.

The previous record for a doubles final was a three-hour, five-set, 70-game match in 1968 -- pre-tiebreaker days -- won by John Newcombe and Tony Roche over Ken Rosewall and Fred Stolle. That score was 3-6, 8-6, 5-7, 14-12, 6-3.

After discussion among the players, tournament referee Alan Mills suspended the match. It will be resumed today, after the completion of the mixed doubles championship.

It was a long day of doubles for McEnroe, a four-time doubles champion (with Peter Fleming).

McEnroe and Stich had finished the last two sets of their 7-6, 6-3, 7-6 victory over Jakob Hlasek and Guy Forget yesterday afternoon. McEnroe also did 20 minutes in the NBC booth.

McEnroe and Stich were on the court for more than five hours yesterday.

The only doubles match completed was for the women's title, with second seeds Gigi Fernandez and Natalia Zvereva defeating top seeds Jana Novotna and Larisa Savchenko-Neiland, 6-4, 6-1.

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