So for no reason at all, here’s an Australian Open FACT:
Today (January 18) marks 30 years since the then World No.2 Boris Becker and the relatively unknown Omar Camporese of Italy played a historic Third Round match on a Friday afternoon at the formerly named Flinders Park.
Historic, in that it was first singles match in Australian Open history to last longer than 5 hours, at 5 hours and 11 minutes.
The previous year, Pete Sampras and Tim Mayotte played a 1st Round match that lasted 4 hours and 59 minutes, but the Becker-Camporese match was a marathon that even Rob de Castella would’ve struggled to finish.
In one the epic forgotten Grand Slam matches, Becker, who had squandered a hard fought 2 set lead, defeated Camporese 7-6 (7-4), 7-6 (7-5), 0-6, 4-6, 14-12 on a packed out No.1 Court (Now Margaret Court Arena), as the 26-game final set lasted 2 hours and 5 minutes on its lonesome.
Becker actually served for the match at 11-10 after breaking Camporese’s serve, and Boom Boom promptly raced to 40-0 and 3 match points, only for Camporese, with his sleek one-handed backhand, to rattle off 5 consecutive points and break back from oblivion, Becker broke again for 12-11, but again he was pegged back by the Italian, but completing the fantastic contest, Becker broke again at 13-12, and ultimately served out the Friday evening thriller 14-12 with an ace out wide.
Showing no lasting fatigue, 9 days later, Becker would go on to win the Final against 2-time defending champion Ivan Lendl, claiming the first of his two titles in Melbourne (1996 being the other), his fifth career major singles title, and vaulting him over Stefan Edberg to claim the World No.1 ranking for the first time.
A few more random facts:
The 1991 third round contest remained the longest Australian Open singles match for 18 years, until it was surpassed by the 2009 Rafael Nadal-Fernando Verdasco Semi-Final at 5 hours and 14 minutes.
It now sits 4th in the tournament’s history, having also been surpassed by the 2012 Djokovic-Nadal Final at 5 hours and 53 minutes (The longest Major singles final in history), and a 2017 1st Round match between Ivo Karlovic and Horacio Zeballos that lasted for 5 hours and 22 minutes, and finished 22-20 in the final set, making it the longest AO match in terms of games.
A few months later, Becker and Camporese played again in a Davis Cup World Group tie between Italy and a unified Germany in Dortmund, this time on indoor carpet, with Becker coming back from 2 sets down to win in another epic 5-setter, as the Germans came back and won the tie 3-2.
Camporese would build off his near miss, winning his first career singles title at Rotterdam in February of 1991, ironically also defeating Lendl in the final, he would better his 1991 AO performance and make the 4th Round in 1992, this time losing to Lendl, and achieved a career high singles ranking of No.18 after winning the Milan Indoor title (His only other career title) in February of ’92.
The only other major meeting between Becker and Camporese came in the First Round of Wimbledon in ’92, which was far more straight forward than their other contests, with Becker winning in straight sets – It was the only meeting in which Camporese didn’t take a set off Becker.
Lastly, if you’re a masochist, there’s actually a German broadcast of the entire final set: