Roddick  and El Aynaoui  met only once, but what a 4-hour 59-minute match they co-created!
One of the tightest and most dramatic encounters in the Grand Slam history and a record 5th set lasting seven years, in terms of games in the deciding set (overwhelmly surpassed by John Isner & Nicolas Mahut)! The 20-year-old Roddick began the match losing his serve after two deuces, but within five hours of play he will be broken only thrice as well as his 11 years older opponent. The Moroccan was two points away from leading 2-0 in sets, however, at 5-all in the 2nd set tie-break, A-Rod played arguably his best backhand on that day – a winner down the line in a 6-stroke rally. The American was serving exceptionally well in the 3rd set, but lost his serve at 4:5 despite 40/30 having the initiative during a rally, perhaps the longest one during their marathon. In the following game El Aynaoui lost his serve committing three double faults (threw his racquet in disgust then) and it decided the 4th set. In the final set almost as many points were played as in the four previous sets (8-point difference). That memorable 5th set lasted 2 hours 23 minutes which was the longest fifth set in history at the time. The Moroccan manufactured his only match point at 5:4* (advantage) having won three straight points – Roddick responded with a forehand inside-out winner in a 5-stroke rally. El Aynaoui also led 6:5 (30/15) before saving a mini-match point with a brilliant BH drop-volley at 6-all. He was two points away from the victory again at 7:6 (30-all) – lost quite long baseline rally then. At 10-all El Aynaoui got broken with a double fault, yet broke back quickly after Roddick’s FH error to establish a 12:11 lead; four hours of play were behind them. Later on, A-Rod serves eight times to stay in the competition (holds at 0-30-15-0-0-30-15-3D, respectively). El Aynaoui should have been awarded his second match point because he played a winner at 19:18 (deuce), but the linesman called it out. At 19-all Roddick took advantage of El Aynaoui’s fatigue, breaking him at 30. In the last game Roddick converted his second match point (on the first occasion he almost finished it with a diving volley).
Curiosity: both guys were shortly coached at the time by former players – El Aynaoui of Morocco by Jeff Tarango of America, while Roddick of America by Tarik Benhabiles of France, but born in Algeria – the closest neighbor of Morocco
Aftermath: despite the great experience derived from that match, Roddick will never win a five-set match again as the scoreline goes beyond 5-all in the decider, it’ll happen eight times in years 2005-2010…
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