The stat sheet on the longest match of the U.S. Open to date conveyed only part of the wild story that unfolded between eighth-seeded Guillermo Coria of Argentina and Nicolas Massu of Chile at Louis Armstrong Stadium on Monday.
Coria ended up prevailing, 6-4, 2-6, 6-7 (7-5), 6-2, 6-2, in a 4-hour 32-minute match in which the South Americans totaled 95 winners, 127 unforced errors and 29 double faults. But there was no official tally on the number of sneers, stare-downs and hostile gestures as tempers flared down the stretch.
Coria, 23, made no secret that he was irked by Massu's slow pace when he served and received serve. His agitation grew when Massu called for a trainer a second time to massage his hamstrings.
Then, during the changeover early in the fifth set, the two nearly came to blows. Coria had just taken a 2-1 lead in the deciding set, and the 6-foot Massu shouted as he walked toward his chair, jabbing a finger in the air for emphasis, that the Argentine was disrespecting him. Coria shouted back that Massu was paranoid and would be better served by paying attention to his own game.
"Take care of your own business and leave me alone," Coria said in Spanish, according to former touring pro Barbara Schett, who provided commentary for Fox Sports-Australia. "You're paranoid!"
At 5-9, the baby-faced Coria is one of the shorter players in the men's game but boasts one of the longer histories of bad blood with his opponents.
But Massu, 25, professed nothing but respect for the Argentine, though not necessarily for his behavior during their match, in his postmatch interview. According to an interpreter, Massu said he had nothing negative to say about Coria except that he didn't care for his attitude on court. Massu said he suspected that Coria was annoyed that the trainer took a long time to arrive after he had called him to massage his right hamstring shortly before the fourth set began.
Coria had little to say about the incident but revealed later that he had lost a toenail during the match -- an injury that Massu, he claimed, didn't think was real.
Williams Sisters Are Tied
Venus Williams's fourth-round victory over younger sister Serena was clear-cut and convincing. But there was confusion over where that left their career record against each other. It now stands at 7-7. The sisters have actually drawn each other 15 times since both turned pro, with Serena advancing to the next round eight times. But one of those was a "walk-over" (Indian Wells, Calif., 2001), in which Venus withdrew and Serena advanced. It doesn't count in their head-to-head tally.