French Open: Marathon woman Schiavone marches on in Paris

Paris: Francesca Schiavone and Svetlana Kuznetsova played the third longest women singles ever in the French Open on Thursday in a clash of two former tournament winners that went the full distance.

Francesca Schiavone. Pic/AFP Francesca Schiavone. Pic/AFP

It took them 3 hours 50 minutes before Schiavone staggered past the winning post and into the third round 6-7 (11/13), 7-5, 10-8, but even that was no match going up against the game they played at the 2011 Australian Open. Schiavone also won on that occasion 16-14 in the deciding set after 4 hrs 44mins -- the longest match to date in women's Grand Slam history.

It was the 15th time that the two had faced off against each other and the Italian, the French Open winner in 2010, said that they know each's games inside out. "With Svetlana I think we can play hours and hours and hours because we know each other exactly like I said before to play," she said. "She is amazing, and every time I play against her I say, Oh, my God, now what can happen?

And it's happened a long match again." At 34, Schiavone is the oldest player left in the women's draw, after the first round departure of Venus Williams, who is six days older. And with 59 straight Grand Slam tournament appearances, she is just three shy of the Open-era record of 62 set by Japan's Ai Sugiyama. Having fallen to a lowly 92nd in the world rankings, Schiavone said that she knew the end of her career was in sight, but she is insisted that she still would give it her all in her remaining tournaments.

"I think every match is a great history for me now," she said. "Doesn't matter where I am. Doesn't matter the score. Everything is a present for me now. So I'm living like this. That's all. I'm here, third round, and I keep going in my way." Next up for Schiavone is a winnable third round matchup against Romanian Andreea Mitu who ousted 12th seeded Czech Karolina Pliskova 2-6, 7-6 (7/5), 6-4.

Kuznetsova, who won her French Open title in 2009 the year prior to Schiavone's success, paid tribute to her opponent for saving match point at 7-6 in the third set with a superb backhand winner. "For a one-handed backhander to play it like that down the line, she totally went for it and all credit to her. She played an unbelievable point. There was nothing I could do, you know," she said.

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