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    Jul 31, 2012

    The Story Of The Olympics' 48-Game Tennis Set

    Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Milos Raonic played the longest tennis set in Olympic history earlier today. It was really, really long.

    This is Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Canadian Milos Raonic. At the time of this picture, it's 6:30 am EST. They're about to start playing tennis.

    How long did it take Djokovic to beat Andy Roddick? 54 minutes? OK, cool, this shouldn't take long.

    STEFAN WERMUTH / Reuters

    Sure enough, Tsonga wins the first set in a brisk 30 minutes. He's happy, this woman's happy, everyone's happy.

    Not so fast. Raonic takes the second set, though it's even quicker than the first, at 27 minutes.

    Raonic is known for his powerful serve, which, on the set point shown here, is too much for Tsonga to even get to. The match is now tied one set to one; at this stage of the Olympics tournament, it's best two out of three games, so everything comes down to the third set. Tsonga, the world's #6-ranked player, and Raonic, #23, both won their respective sets 6-3.

    But after the first three games of the third set — Tsonga led 2-1 — play is suspended due to rain. Tsonga and Raonic leave the court.

    And the tarp comes out.

    Play was delayed for over two hours, all of which could be watched on NBC's web stream — a weird quirk of the format.

    When play resumed, Tsonga had changed his shirt.

    Leading 16 games to 15, Tsonga had his first chance at match point. Raonic served himself out of it.

    Same thing happened on the next match point, with Tsonga up 21-20. It began to look like this might last forever.

    Finally, at 24 sets to 23, Tsonga gets the edge in an excellent rally. The third set lasted 180 minutes — more than three times the length of the first two sets combined.

    This is what it feels like to win a match seven hours after it started.

    PHIL NOBLE / Reuters
    STEFAN WERMUTH / Reuters
    Mark Humphrey / AP