They won back-to-back French Open titles in 2009 and 2010 but, mercifully, they didn't play each other. That happened a year later at the Australian Open, when the two locked up in a battle won by Schiavone 16-14 in the third set. The match required a gargantuan 4 hours, 44 minutes and is certifiably the longest Grand Slam match in the history of women's tennis.
For awhile Thursday, it looked as if the two were headed in that same direction all over again. As it turned out, Schiavone's 6-7 (11), 7-5, 10-8 victory was only the third-longest match in French Open history, clocking in at a robust 3 hours, 50 minutes.
Kuznetsova, the No. 18 seed who squandered a match point, pushed a forehand volley into the net to send Schiavone, who is ranked No. 92 among WTA players, into the third round.
"It's for you guys to think about [the] hours and minutes," Kuznetsova said. "I was just trying to hold my serve. I was getting tight, not serving the way I should."
The match featured:
• 18 breaks of serve, 10 of them by Schiavone
• 168 winners -- a category also owned by the Italian, 87-81
• 306 points -- with the edge again going to Schiavone, 160-146
The result was something of a surprise, because Schiavone has struggled the past two years, losing in the first round of 17 of her past 28 tournaments. Schiavone, who turns 35 next month, is the oldest woman left in the draw after Venus Williams went out in the first round.
Schiavone won the only Grand Slam singles title of her career here, beating Samantha Stosur in that 2010 final. She was runner-up to Li Na the following year. Schiavone will face Andreea Mitu of Romania in the third round.