Tennis

Tommy Robredo: a wizard of 5-set victories

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PARIS (AP)

Tommy Robredo is not making things easy for himself.

The Spaniard has become the master of the big rally - the first man in 86 years to win three consecutive Grand Slam matches after dropping the first two sets.

''You know, nobody dreams of doing such things,'' Robredo said Sunday. ''What one dreams of is to reach quarterfinals, but not such a nightmare that is a five-setter. What I accomplished was very difficult, very complicated.''

Ranked 470th a year ago, Robredo reached the French Open quarterfinals for the first time since 2009 by defeating 11th-seeded Nicolas Almagro 6-7 (5), 3-6, 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 in an all-Spanish match.

The only other player to achieve what Roberdo did was France's Henri Cochet, who won three matches in a row at Wimbledon in 1927 after losing the first two sets.

A former top 10 player, Robredo missed this tournament the past two years because of a left leg injury that required surgery.

''I already erased that from my mind,'' he said. ''Obviously it was an experience that I had to go through, and in life all the experiences are good. I think that you learn a lot more from a bad experience than from a good one, no? So from that one I learned a lot, and right now I'm enjoying it a lot more every time I win a match.''

Robredo was also a quarterfinalist at Roland Garros in 2003, 2005, 2007 and 2009. Last year, he finished outside the top 100 for the first time in 12 years. He won a clay-court tournament in Morocco in April.

Up next for him is another Spaniard, No. 4-seeded David Ferrer, who eliminated No. 23 Kevin Anderson of South Africa 6-3, 6-1, 6-1.

''Maybe some years ago I wouldn't have fought for each point, whereas today I do this on each point,'' Robredo said. ''When I was injured, I was not even thinking that I could be back, that I could play on the Lenglen court or Chatrier court.''

Robredo's father, Angel, was a big fan of The Who and named his son after the group's musical ''Tommy.'' At the finish, with the crowd chanting ''Tommy, Tommy,'' Robredo fell to his knees and broke in tears.

''I really like it when I see that the crowd is getting mad,'' he said. ''They're shouting, they're motivating us, they're supporting us.''

Robredo's match was not only long, but painful.

''There was some type of pain in my arm that felt numb and I couldn't really hold the racquet correctly,'' Robredo said. ''It was hurting so much that at the end I was not feeling the pain any longer.''

Two sets down, things did not look good for Robredo. But Almagro then blew leads of 4-1 in the third set, 4-2 in the fourth and 2-0 in the fifth.

''Today it was more than physical,'' Robredo said. ''I think it was mentally because when you have to run four hours at the end, it's the brain. ... That helps you to run a little more. Because I was destroyed as the other, but at the end my brain was pretty good.''

In the final set, Almagro made an unforced error in the ninth game to drop serve. Robredo clinched victory when his opponent hit a backhand volley into the net.

''He was very regular,'' Almagro said, ''I had my ups and downs. These ups and downs cost me the match. I think Tommy produced a remarkable, admirable game. I have every respect for what he did.''

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