The most laborious weekend in Kafelnikov’s career. He’d been playing in fast pace, his matches were relatively short. In the Davis Cup semifinal he played not only the longest singles match in his career against Gaudio (4 hours 7 minutes), he also took part in the longest doubles match in history (the record will be broken by 40 minutes, many years later) – 6 hours 20 minutes (along with Safin, he lost to Arnold/Nalbandian 4-6, 4-6, 7-5, 6-3, 17-19 losing two match points on Safin’s serve at 17:16!). On Sunday, Safin won a clincher 3-1 against Nalbandian in the fourth rubber, and the spent Kafelnikov wasn’t luckily forced to enter the court against Chela.
Given conditions (carpet, Kafelnikov’s favorite court, Moscow, where he was unbeaten in events of the years 1996-2001), the higher ranked Russian [7 vs 21] was a heavy favorite, but he had played just one match against Gaudio, losing 4-6, 1-6 in Miami a year before. Gaudio knew how to deal with Kafelnokov’s ground-strokes, and should have won it in five sets. In the decider he led *5:2 (40/15) after two consecutive aces. He went for the third one, but missed, and lost 16 straight points! The double match point evaporated after baseline errors: careless backhand shank first, then a forehand that could touch the line, but was called out (it wasn’t a very good shot, Kafelnikov didn’t keep the ball in play with his backhand, but linesman’s decision could make an impact on him). Gaudio was furious because he felt that the lines people were cheating against him. He had suffered brain cramps, at *5:6 (30-all) also cramps in his left thigh. After massages he was able to win two points in a row, leveled at 6 games apiece, but had not enough strength in the two following games. He had lost on serve the opening game of the 3rd set after 18 minutes (10 deuces).
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