Chela beats Falla to reach French Open quarters

Chela beats Falla to reach French Open quarters

Published May. 30, 2011 7:08 p.m. ET

Flat on his back and looking up at the sky, Juan Ignacio Chela could hardly believe it.

The 31-year-old unseeded Argentine had just beaten Alejandro Falla of Colombia 4-6, 6-2, 1-6, 7-6 (5), 6-2 Monday at the French Open, advancing to the quarterfinals at a major tournament for the first time since 2007, when he realized what he had done.

''It's a surprise for me to be again in quarterfinals,'' said Chela, who will next face either Andy Murray of Britain or Viktor Troicki of Serbia. ''For me it's great. I'm very proud to be in the second week.''

Chela is the oldest man left in the draw, and he's also the only non-European. But the 34th-ranked Argentine is a veteran, having reached the same stage at Roland Garros in 2004.


Against Falla on Court Suzanne Lenglen, Chela dropped his serve early in the fourth set, but he soon broke back. Falla then wasted four break points at 4-4, allowing Chela to force the tiebreaker.

''He broke me right away, and I think that was an advantage that I gave him because I think he was tired,'' Falla said. ''He was also feeling a little bit down mentally, because I was closer than him to win this match.''

Falla has never won an ATP title but last year at Wimbledon he nearly beat Roger Federer in the first round, failing to serve out the match at 5-4 in the fourth set.

On Monday, he just ran out of steam.

''At the end I was feeling a little bit tired,'' said Falla, who had to win three matches to qualify for the main draw. ''The rallies were too long.''

Chela was feeling the strain, too, and he showed it after winning match point and dropping to the ground.

''I was lying down,'' said Chela, who last played in the quarterfinals at a major at the 2007 U.S. Open. ''I didn't want to stand up. I was watching the sky.''


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