The 2022 Abierto Mexicano Telcel did not have to wait long to make history.
Day 1 of main draw competition was not just one day. It was two – with plenty of room to spare. To say that first-round action on Monday night spilled well into Tuesday would be a gross understatement; in fact, what ensued was the latest finish in tennis history. The “nightcap” between Alexander Zverev and Jenson Brooksby, which did not even begin until 1:36 am, ended at 4:55 am.
Zverev’s 3-6, 7-6 (1), 6-2 required three hours and 19 minutes and it surpassed the previous latest-ever conclusion – Lleyton Hewitt vs. Marcos Baghdatis at the 2008 Australian Open (4:34 am).
Brooksby had chances to finish it before the record was broken. Leading by a set, the 21-year-old American earned three break points at 3-3 in the second. After failing to convert, he still brought up match points at 6-5 and 10-9 in the ensuing tiebreaker.
Zverev came up with the answers every time, however, and once he stole that set he was off to the races. The second-seeded German seized breaks at 1-1 and 4-2 in the second, helping him reach the finish line before the sun came up.
“Right now I’m happy that I won,” Zverev said afterwards. “I do not know how Jenson feels, but it must be difficult. I’m happy to be a part of history. It was an incredible battle. I think it was an incredible match; hopefully [there are] many more to come from me this week. Today I did not play my best, there’s no doubt about it, but I did not give up.
“I want to do well [in Acapulco], I’m the defending champion and I want to give myself the best chance to win. I did well to survive today. Acapulco is always special to me. The crowd is always special. It’s always super loud here, the energy is unbelievable. At 5 am the stadium is still quite full. There’s nowhere else in the world where people appreciate tennis the way they do here. ”
The fans saw a couple of other thrillers, too – which explains why Zverev and Brooksby did not get on the court until well past 1:00 am.
John Isner opened the center-court schedule by beating Fernando Verdasco 7-5, 6-7 (4), 7-6 (3). Isner – who of course is already a big part of tennis history with his 11-hour and 5-minute win over Nicolas Mahut at Wimbledon in 2010 – came back from 5-2 down in the final set to prevail after three hours and 13 minutes . That was followed by Stefan Kozlov’s three-hour and 21-minute battle with Grigor Dimitrov. Kozlov started cramping in the second set but somehow triumphed 7-6 (8), 5-7, 6-3.
The 24-year-old, who lost in qualifying, was not even expecting to play and was therefore on the practice court on Monday night. While playing a practice set with Kozlov, Rafael Nadal broke a string. During the quick break, Kozlov checked his phone and saw a message from tournament official Ali Nili that he had a lucky-loser spot (replacing Maxime Cressy) and should report to the match court in 20 minutes.
The rest is quite literally history.