Buenos Aires: Leonardo Mayer defeated Joao Souza in an historic five-set duel lasting six hours and 42 minutes on Sunday to keep Argentina alive against Brazil in their Davis Cup World Group first-round tie.
Mayer`s 7-6 (7/4), 7-6 (7/5), 5-7, 5-7, 15-13 triumph was the longest singles match in Davis Cup history, and knotted the best-of-five tie at 2-2.
That left Argentina`s 83rd-ranked Federico Delbonis and Brazilian Thomaz Bellucci, ranked 87th, to decide the tie.
Delbonis, taking over in singles after Carlos Berlocq lost to Souza on Friday, had won the opening set 6-3 when darkness stopped play, with the match to resume Monday.
Mayer sealed his victory on his 11th match point. He fired 16 aces and 89 winners, overcoming 134 unforced errors, while securing six breaks in 23 chances.
The contest surpassed the six-hour, 22-minute clash in which John McEnroe beat Sweden`s Mats Wilander 9-7, 6-2, 15-17, 3-6, 8-6 in St. Louis in 1982 as the longest singles encounter in the global nations tournament.
It was the second-longest singles match on record, only behind John Isner and Nicolas Mahut`s legendary 11-hour battle at Wimbledon in 2010.
Having managed something of a shock in winning the first singles rubber on Friday, Brazil took the doubles as expected, leaving Argentine number one Mayer needing to beat Souza to keep the hosts` hopes alive.
Souza had seen off Berlocq 6-4, 3-6, 5-7, 6-3, 6-2 on Friday, but that proved just an appetizer for Sunday`s drama.
Mayer seemed to be feeling the tension as he struggled in his opening service game, but he settled in and neither player mustered a break in the opening set.
Mayer gained the first break of the match in the third game of the second set, but Souza broke back to set the stage for another tiebreaker.
Amid deafening noise from the crowd between points, Mayer took a 3-0 lead in the decider before Souza pulled back to 5-5. Mayer benefited from a lucky bounce, but again won the tie break, 7-5.
The two had exchanged breaks in the third when Mayer meekly surrendered another late service break, allowing Souza to serve out for the set.
Mayer then delivered two double faults to give up an early break in the fourth. He clawed it back in the sixth game, but was broken again as Souza knotted the match at two sets apiece and set the stage for the tension-laden fifth.
The winners of the tie will next face Serbia, who led by world number one Novak Djokovic defeated Croatia 5-0.