The loser wasn't even tired, looking as if he could serve-and-volley for another set or two. Just as inexplicably, the hollow-eyed winner needed several minutes to lift his aching and ailing body from his courtside chair.
For once, the weary, and winning warrior was Todd Martin.
His greatest victory was perhaps his bravest, as the seventh seed recovered from a two-sets-to-none deficit to defeat ninth-seeded Greg Rusedski of Great Britain, 5-7, 0-6, 7-6 (7-3), 6-4, 6-4, in the fourth round of the U.S. Open.
The 3-hour 1-minute match started on Tuesday night and ended this morning at 12:14. Martin's thrilling comeback had the crowd on its feet, delivering several standing ovations and chanting: "Let's Go Todd!!"
Martin punctuated the victory in stellar, stunning fashion, winning 20 of the final 21 points, as he rallied from a 4-1, fifth-set deficit, including a stretch of 18 consecutive points. Afterward, he needed intravenous fluids and was unable to talk to media for more than an hour.
Martin was facing formidable odds before he even stepped on the court. He has been ailing from a stomach virus and need three bags of intravenous fluids on Monday.
After he lost the second set, 6-0, in 21 minutes, Martin appeared finished, looking a lot like he did in his Davis Cup match against Australia's Patrick Rafter in July.
Nevertheless, in this U.S. Open of injuries, Martin kept plugging away. And suddenly, the tenor of the match changed dramatically when Rusedski served for the match at 5-4 in the third set and Martin broke him at 15.
"I thought it was done, but as soon as you make a couple of shots and you play a fourth set, you never know," said a drained Martin.
Said Rusedski: "I definitely should have won that match. I lost that match, Todd didn't win that match today."
It was Martin's fifth career comeback from two sets down and his 15th five-set victory.
Meanwhile, the men continued to be hit by The Great Injury Bug of '99, which claimed another victim. Magnus Norman of Sweden strained his lower back in the 11th game of the first set against fifth-seeded Gustavo Kuerten of Brazil, and was forced to retire in the first game of the second set after he lost the opener in a tiebreaker.
Norman said he felt "a click" in his lower back when he hit a service return.
Seven players in the men's draw have retired during matches because of injuries or cramps. That doesn't even include four others who didn't make it to the Open, among others, Pete Sampras and Mark Philippoussis.
Hall of Famer John McEnroe was named captain of the U.S. Davis Cup team, replacing Tom Gullikson, who had led the team for the past five years.
The 40-year-old McEnroe had a record 59 wins in 12 years as a member of the U.S. Davis Cup team.
Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi have had conflicts with Gullikson in recent years.
Weekday television ratings for the U.S. Open fell 11 percent in the first week of the season's final Grand Slam tournament, but weekend numbers were higher.
USA Network reported a 0.6 rating representing 490,000 households for its daytime coverage and a 1.0, or 800,000 households, for its primetime shows. Last year, the daytime rating was 0.7, or 543,000 households and the nighttime was 1.1 or 830,000 households.
CBS, which covers weekend matches, said its rating for the first Saturday was 2.5, up 25 percent from last year's 2.0. Sunday's rating of 2.7 was the second-highest Sunday rating this decade, topped only by a 4.5 in 1990.