Germany's Altmaier wins French Open epic as Andreeva strikes blow for teens
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Germany's Altmaier wins French Open epic as Andreeva strikes blow for teens

Marathon men: Germany's Daniel Altmaier (right) and Jannik Sinner after their five-hour 26-minute epic. (Photo: AFP)
Marathon men: Germany's Daniel Altmaier (right) and Jannik Sinner after their five-hour 26-minute epic. (Photo: AFP)

PARIS - Germany's Daniel Altmaier won the fifth longest French Open match on Thursday as 16-year-old Mirra Andreeva made the last 32, providing a tantalising glimpse into the sport's future.

Altmaier saved two match points and then held his nerve on a fifth match point of his own to knock out Italian eighth seed Jannik Sinner 6-7 (0/7), 7-6 (9/7), 1-6, 7-6 (7/4), 7-5 after five hours and 26 minutes of breathless action on Court Suzanne Lenglen.

"I just love the game of tennis," said Altmaier, ranked 79 in the world and who broke down in tears at the end of the marathon.

"I don't know if you can call it a historical match, but it was one to remember. Playing every point you can with the best effort, that's what keeps you in reality."

The longest ever match at Roland Garros remains the six hours and 33 minutes it took Fabrice Santoro to beat fellow Frenchman Arnaud Clement in 2004.

The 24-year-old Altmaier, who made the last 16 in 2020, twice faced defeat when Sinner was serving for victory in the fourth set.

He battled back to level the tie and broke in game seven of the decider but then failed to serve it out.

He immediately gave himself another chance, though, and this time crept over the line as he secured a surprise win on his fifth match point after a thrilling final game in which he also saved three break points.

Next up is a clash with Bulgaria's Grigor Dimitrov for a place in the last 16.

"That's sport," said Sinner. "I'll come back but it's tough to swallow."

Andreeva became just the seventh player under the age of 17 to make the third round in Paris in 30 years -- joining the likes of Serena Williams and Martina Hingis -- with a 6-1, 6-2 win over Diane Parry of France.

Andreeva, ranked at 143 and making her Grand Slam debut after coming through the qualifiers, will face Coco Gauff in the next round.

The 19-year-old Gauff, the runner-up to Iga Swiatek last year, defeated Julia Grabher of Austria 6-2, 6-3.

"She's an experienced player. I am sure it will be a great match. She will do her best, I will do mine. We'll have to see who does it better," added Andreeva, the youngest player in the third round since a 15-year-old Sesil Karatantcheva made the quarter-finals in 2005.

Swiatek maintained her bid to become the first woman to successfully defend the French Open title in 16 years by cruising into the third round with a 6-4, 6-0 win over American Claire Liu.

World number one Swiatek, who turned 22 on Wednesday, will face China's Wang Xinyu on Saturday for a place in the second week.

The Polish star could lose her world number one ranking for the first time in over a year next week if she fails to lift a fourth Grand Slam singles title.

Justine Henin was the last woman to win back-to-back Roland Garros titles when she lifted her third in a row and fourth in total in 2007.

World number four and Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina racked up her 30th win of the year by defeating Czech teenager Linda Noskova 6-3, 6-3.

Kazakh fourth seed Rybakina, who could be the new world number one by the end of Roland Garros, converted three of the 10 break points she carved out and fired 30 winners past 18-year-old Noskova.

Last year's men's runner-up Casper Ruud booked his place in the third round with a four-set win over battling Italian qualifier Giulio Zeppieri.

The Norwegian fourth seed was pushed hard by his 129th-ranked opponent but clinched a 6-3, 6-2, 4-6, 7-5 success on Court Philippe Chatrier.

Ruud will next face Zhang Zhizhen who became the first Chinese man to make the last 32 since 1937 with a 7-6 (7/3), 6-3, 6-4 win over Argentine qualifier Thiago Agustin Tirante.

The bottom half of the men's draw had already opened up after world number two Daniil Medvedev was knocked out in the first round by Brazil's Thiago Seyboth Wild.

World number 172 Seyboth Wild backed up that win by seeing off Guido Pella of Argentina 6-3, 3-6, 6-4, 6-3.

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