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Wednesday, November 19, 2003
Gonzales survives Wimbledon's longest match
By Larry Schwartz
Special to

June 25, 1969

It was played in near darkness yesterday and in brilliant sunlight today. And when it is over, Pancho Gonzales, long past his prime at age 41, is the winner of perhaps the most memorable match of his storied career.

In the longest match in Wimbledon history, both in terms of time (five hours and 12 minutes) and games (112), Gonzales saves seven match points in his first-round competition against 25-year-old Charlie Pasarell and triumphs, 22-24, 1-6, 16-14, 6-3, 11-9.

The first two sets, which take two hours and 20 minutes, were completed last night and Gonzales had raged in protest for having to play in the darkness, saying he could not see the ball properly. He does better in the sunlight.

In the fifth set, Gonzales falls behind love-40 on his serve at both 4-5 and 5-6. He wins both games. Though weary and not chasing after balls that he might not reach, he continues to hold serve. Finally, in the 19th game, he breaks Pasarell's serve at love. And when he holds his own serve at love, Gonzales is an exhausted winner.

He shuffles off to the locker room, head up. The cheers reverberate around the court and follow him in. "I'm a little tired," he says.

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