By Ricky Dimon
The 2022 Abierto Mexicano Telcel did not not have to wait long to make history.
Day 1 of main-draw competition wasn’t just one day. It was two–with plenty of room to spare. To say that first-round action on Monday night spilled well into Tuesday would be a gross understatement; in fact, what ensued was the latest finish in tennis history. The “nightcap” between Alexander Zverev and Jenson Brooksby, which did not even begin until 1:36 am, ended at 4:55 am.
Zverev’s 3-6, 7-6(1), 6-2 required three hours and 19 minutes and it surpassed the previous latest-ever conclusion — Lleyton Hewitt vs. Marcos Baghdatis at the 2008 Australian Open (4:34 am).
Brooksby had chances to finish it before the record was broken. Leading by a set, the 21-year-old American earned three break points at 3-3 in the second. After failing to convert, he still brought up match points at 6-5 and 10-9 in the ensuing tiebreaker.
Zverev came up with the answers every time, however, and once he stole that set he was off to the races. The second-seeded German seized breaks at 1-1 and 4-2 in the second, helping him reach the finish line before the sun came up.
“Right now I’m happy that I won,” Zverev said afterward. “I don’t know how Jenson feels, but it must be difficult. I’m happy to be a part of history. It was an incredible battle. I think it was an incredible match; hopefully [there are] many more to come from me this week. Today I didn’t play my best, there’s no doubt about it, but I didn’t give up.
“I want to do well [in Acapulco], I’m the defending champion and I want to give myself the best chance to win. I did well to survive today. Acapulco is always special to me. The crowd is always special. It’s always super loud here, the energy is unbelievable. At 5 am the stadium is still quite full. There’s nowhere else in the world where the people appreciate tennis the way they do here.”
The fans saw a couple of other thrillers, too–which explains why Zverev and Brooksby did not get on the court until well past 1:00 am.
John Isner opened the center-court schedule by beating Fernando Verdasco 7-5, 6-7(4), 7-6(3). Isner–who of course is already a big part of tennis history with his 11-hour and 5-minute win over Nicolas Mahut at Wimbledon in 2010–came back from 5-2 down in the final set to prevail after three hours and 13 minutes. That was followed by Stefan Kozlov’s three-hour and 21-minute battle with Grigor Dimitrov. Kozlov started cramping in the second set but somehow triumphed 7-6(8), 5-7, 6-3.
The 24-year-old, who lost in qualifying, was not even expecting to play and was therefore on the practice court on Monday night. While playing a practice set with Kozlov, Rafael Nadal broke a string. During the quick break, Kozlov checked his phone and saw a message from tournament official Ali Nili that he had a lucky-loser spot (replacing Maxime Cressy) and should report to the match court in 20 minutes.
The rest is quite literally history.
Ricky contributes to10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.
Editors Note • Gorgeous Gussy Moran said no tennis after 9 or 10 at the latest. These elite athletes bodies are ready to eat And sleep. And relax. Not go into warrior mode after mid nite… and in this case to play most of the night. Sheer insanity. It throws off the players. The fans. The tourney staff • really. Tennis is making the “mainstream news” for the ridiculous.