WIMBLEDON, England -- They wanted it to end. Chanda Rubin was sick to her stomach and Patricia Hy-Boulais was just )) plain sick of not winning.
But they played on and on and on yesterday in the tournament in which they just don't do tiebreakers in the final set. Wouldn't be sporting.
They played so long that the buzz made its way around Wimbledon and the crowds started coming over from other matches, creating human gridlock around the aisles at Court 16. Even the cops and officials and the restaurant patrons hung out windows and climbed stairways to see what was going on out there.
"I was amazed people were still there," Rubin said. "I would have walked away. OK, see ya."
But Rubin, a soft-spoken, hard-hitting 19-year-old from Lafayette, stayed. And, finally, she won the longest women's singles tennis match in Wimbledon history, beating Hy-Boulais in the second round, 7-6 (7-4), 6-7 (5-7), 17-15.
"I knew I wanted to win the match," Rubin said after advancing to the third round. "But I didn't know why."
In a sport in which women's matches frequently end in less than an hour, this was classic stuff, lasting 3 hours, 45 minutes. The final set took 2:04.
The 58 games produced a women's Wimbledon record in singles. So did the 32-game third set.
Hy-Boulais had one match point. Rubin had seven.
By the end, the players looked like a pair of punch-drunk fighters. Rubin staggered from side to side. Hy-Boulais frantically hit ground stroke after ground stroke. Finally, Hy-Boulais cracked, pushing a forehand into the net.
The players kissed one another on the cheek. The crowd roared.
"No losses are easy to handle. But I think I have to come off the court and keep on thinking, 'I gave my best,' " Hy-Boulais said.
Hy-Boulais fled Cambodia as a child, lived in Hong Kong, learned her tennis in Florida, attended UCLA and settled in Canada. She married her coach last year. Before yesterday, her most famous match occurred when she knocked Jennifer Capriati into retirement by beating her in the first round at the 1993 U.S. Open.
Now, she's a record holder at Wimbledon -- even though she lost.
"It's almost a pleasure," Hy-Boulais said, "knowing we both gave our best. I stretched her. She stretched me. We both took each other one notch higher."
Hy-Boulais was asked what part of her body hurt after the match. She paused and said, "My head. It was the kind of match that I'm thinking what I could have done better."
Not much. Rubin is simply on a roll, reaching the final at Eastbourne in the tuneup to Wimbledon.
"Towards the end of the end of the third set, I kept saying, 'C'mon, one more game,' " Rubin said. "It was very frustrating. I kept thinking, 'Keep fighting. Someone has to win.' You hope it can be you."
"You never forget a match like that," Rubin said. "We were friends before this match. Even though someone had to win, we'll still be friends. We definitely won't forget something like this."
And neither will Wimbledon's fans.
"We were just tough when we needed to be," Rubin said.
Now, Rubin will go on to the third round to play Anke Huber, a 6-2, 7-6 (7-5) winner over Beate Reinstadler. If she can recover quickly, Rubin could be a threat to reach the quarterfinals. She's in a bracket with Zina Garrison-Jackson and Aranxta Sanchez Vicario, the No. 2 seed, who never has made it past the Wimbledon quarters.
Garrison-Jackson defeated Elna Reinach, 6-4, 6-2. Sanchez Vicario ousted Mana Endo, 7-5, 6-2.
Reigning champion Conchita Martinez, the No. 3 seed, defeated Jana Kandarr, 6-4, 6-3.
No. 5 Mary Pierce, who has gotten a lot of publicity about her tennis dresses, her new boyfriend and her previous aversion to grass, got her first taste of playing on Centre Court in her first Wimbledon. For a woman who was born in Montreal and who plays for France, it wasn't such a great experience.
She got beaten by a Frenchwoman, Nathalie Tauziat, 6-4, 3-6, 6-1.
"Have I let myself down?" Pierce said. "No, I don't think so."
Tauziat said there was nothing special about beating Pierce in their first meeting. Once, Pierce was the outcast on the French women's team. But not anymore.
"I do not play Mary to say I can be No. 1 in France again," Tauziat said. "I don't care. I just won my match because I want to play more matches in Wimbledon."
Andre Agassi (1), Las Vegas, vs. Patrick McEnroe, Cove Neck, N.Y. Steffi Graf (1), Germany, vs. Amanda Coetzer, South Africa. Petr Korda, Czech Republic, vs. Michael Chang (5), Henderson, Nev.
Boris Becker (3), Germany, vs. Jan Apell, Sweden. Jana Novotna (4), Czech Republic, vs. Jo Durie, Britain. Jonas Bjorkman, Sweden, vs. Wayne Ferreira (7), South Africa.