40 LOVE Moments: The Carlsbad Miracle
Published August 02, 2013 12:00
CARLSBAD, CA, USA - It's believed to be the longest third set tie-break in WTA history, and it came right here in Carlsbad nine years ago, in a semifinal battle between two of Russia's all-time greats.
After splitting the first two sets, Anastasia Myskina and Vera Zvonareva battled through all kinds of momentum swings throughout the third set - first Myskina was up 2-0, then Zvonareva was up 4-2, and Zvonareva even got to match point at 5-4, though she missed a backhand down the line on that one.
They went to a tie-break, and it's unlikely either of them knew the kind of history about to unfold.
Myskina came out stronger, getting from a few loose errors from her opponent to go up 3-1, but that opponent caught fire from there, reeling off five points to lead 6-3 - and three more match points.
One by one Myskina saved them all though, first with a crosscourt forehand passing shot on the run, then a down-the-line forehand winner from behind the baseline, then another error from Zvonareva.
But Zvonareva wouldn't buckle, matching Myskina power for power from the baseline, and the breaker went on and on. Zvonareva would actually get five more match points, but just couldn't convert on any of them - Myskina hit a backhand winner down the line, and on the line, on the first at 6-7, then a huge service winner on the second at 7-8, a forehand volley winner on the third at 9-10, then got an error from her opponent at 11-12, and finally, on Zvonareva's ninth and last match point at 13-12, Myskina finished a long backhand exchange up with a swinging backhand volley winner down the line.
Myskina wasn't out of the woods yet. She had already missed out on two match points of her own, and there would be two more misses to come - but finally, on her fifth match point at 16-15 in the third set tie-break, a barrage of deep forehands up the middle drew one last error from Zvonareva, with the two Russians stumbling to the net to hug each other - the crowd, of course, was loud and on its feet.
Final scoreline: 62 67(7) 76(15).
"It was better than the French Open final, it was unbelievable," Myskina told the Tennis Channel's Corina Morariu in her on-court interview right afterwards. "I was just trying to concentrate and be focused on every point and I definitely won because of the crowd - thanks guys, you were awesome."
The quote of the night came when Morariu asked Myskina what she was thinking about during the nine match points. "I thought I'm going to go shopping tomorrow," the charismatic Russian replied.