NEW YORK, SEPT. 11 -- Stefan Edberg didn't know how to high-five, so Anders Jarryd gave up and settled for a hug.
Edberg and Jarryd, the top-seeded men's doubles team, were in the midst of celebrating a sometimes unbelievable 7-6 (7-1), 6-2, 4-6, 5-7, 7-6 (7-2) victory over second-seeded Ken Flach and Robert Seguso in the men's doubles final today. It took 3 hours 45 minutes to finish, but only seven minutes -- the fifth-set tie breaker -- to decide.
It was only the second fifth-set tie breaker required in men's doubles since the Open format began in 1968. John Newcombe and Roger Taylor won a fifth-set tie breaker over Stan Smith and Erik van Dillen in 1971.
This one, however, was an anticlimax, an almost exact replica of the 7-1 first-set tie breaker.
Jarryd and Edberg won four straight points from 1-all. Seguso netted a forehand on his serve; Jarryd served and Flach's crosscourt backhand went out; and Seguso missed a forehand service return badly. Then came the backbreaker, Flach's netted half-volley at the net on his serve that made it 5-1.
Edberg finished it out from 5-2 with a service winner and an ace, as Jarryd pumped a fist and embraced his partner.
The match featured a quartet of players who have played with each other, as well as against. Seguso and Jarryd improvised a partnership after Seguso's brief falling out with Flach earlier this year. Seguso and Jarryd improvised their way to the French Open doubles title, coming back from two sets down to beat Guy Forget and Yannick Noah in five sets.
Flach and Seguso resolved their differences in time to team up and come back from two sets down at Wimbledon to beat Sergio Casal and Emilio Sanchez.
Today, Flach and Seguso nearly pulled off one of the great Open comebacks of all time. No team ever had come from two sets down to win the men's doubles title, but Flach and Seguso were well on their way after escaping a match point in the fourth set and taking a 3-1 fifth-set lead.
"We were still fighting at that stage. One break in the fifth set is not a lot because we were all a little bit tired at that stage," Edberg said.
After holding for 2-3, Jarryd and Edberg broke Seguso's serve in a bizarre game. At 15-all, Seguso swished through an overhead lob by Jarryd, after Flach had saved the point by managing to half-volley while falling down.
"He missed the ball, but my lob was pretty hard. I think he was surprised that the lob came that fast at him. But still, he should make that shot," Jarryd said.
One can only speculate why Seguso missed the lob, since both he and Flach left the National Tennis Center without comment immediately following the match.
At 30-40, Seguso netted a forehand, then was handcuffed by a Jarryd half-volley at the net. Jarryd held serve for 4-3, Flach for 4-4.
Edberg held for 5-4. He and Jarryd then quickly got to 15-40, again on Seguso's serve. At 15-all, Jarryd hit a low forehand from the base line. Flach then swung through a Jarryd forehand to give the Swedes two more match points.
But Seguso nailed a service winner for 30-40, and Edberg netted a service return for deuce. Another service winner and a long service return by Edberg let Flach and Seguso off the hook again for 5-5.
At 5-6, Flach got into trouble on his serve. He fell behind 0-30 after Seguso, incredibly, missed another lob by mistiming his jump. But Flach hit a service winner, Seguso banged a backhand and then covered the net with a sharp forehand to get the Americans out of danger and bring on the tie breaker.
It was amazing that there was even a need for a fifth set after Jarryd and Edberg had won the first two. They dominated the first-set tie breaker, capturing the first five points. In the second, they broke in the fourth and eighth games.
Most people thought the women's semifinals, scheduled after the men's doubles, would begin soon, but Flach and Seguso weren't ready to exit. They broke Jarryd and Edberg in the first game of the third set, and both teams stayed on serve afterward, as the soon-to-be-sellout crowd began to get into the match, responding to Flach's fist-pumping.
In the fourth set, both teams stayed on serve through the 10th game. In that game, down 4-5, Seguso saved the first match point at 30-40 with a blistering service winner, then held for 5-5. Jarryd was broken for 6-5 and Flach served out the set, as the crowd came alive for the Americans.