|Istomin (Uzb) is ranked 45 in the world |
and reached R16 at the US Open
The frequency with which the pair meets in the grand slams is incredible. The pair has met twice in the first round of slams, once in the second round, and once in the third round. Also, all three of their first meetings, which were not in slams, were first round encounters.
Then, what happens when the pair meets in slams is even more incredible. All four of their meetings in slams have gone five sets. It's rare that two players who have never even sniffed the top 10 would have played one five-set match against each other. But the pair has now played four five-set matches against each other on the biggest stages of the sport.
Roland Garros is now the only major where the pair has not battled out a five-set match. I haven't done the research, but I'm willing to bet no other pair of players in tennis history have had five-set encounters at all four of the majors. Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal have contested four-setters at every slam, but have only gone the distance at the Australian Open and Rolland Garros.
Seppi has established himself as a marathon man. The Italian played in eight five-set matches in 2013 and finished with a record of 7-1 in those matches. The only loss was in the round of 32 at the US Open to Istomin 6-3, 6-4, 2-6, 3-6, 6-1. Those were all relatively short sets for the two however.
|Seppi (Ita) is ranked 25 in the world and has played multiple|
five-set matches at four of the last seven majors,
including three at Rolland Garros 2012.
So keep an eye out when the Australian Open draw is released to see where Istomin and Seppi are. We could see a fifth five-set match in the greatest rivalry that nobody is talking about.