Paris: Spain’s Albert Costa and Juan Carlos Ferrero will set up a rematch of last year’s final in the semi-finals of the French Open Friday.
In the quarters Wednesday, while Costa recovered from two sets down to beat compatriot Tommy Robredo 2-6, 3-6, 6-4, 7-5, 6-2, Ferrero made his fourth successive French Open semis outlasting Fernando Gonzalez of Chile 6-1, 3-6, 6-1, 5-7, 6-4.
The Indo-Russian mixed doubles pair of Mahesh Bhupathi and Elena Likhovtseva made the semi-finals beating Corina Morariu of the United States and Jonas Bjorkman of Sweden 6-4, 6-3.
For the fourth time in five matches at Roland Garros, defending champion Costa triumphed in five sets.
In three of those matches he has come from two sets down and Wednesday’s effort in front of a transfixed Centre Court crowd left him exhausted but delighted.
“I’m playing at my highest level,” said Costa, whose form has been poor since he beat Ferrero in last year’s final. “It’s the first time I have won four matches in five sets (in a tournament). I’m surprised myself. I’m tired. It doesn’t look like it but I’m tired. I’m going to try to make it easier in the next round.
“I felt pretty good out there even after being two sets down,” said Costa, who clinched the tie with a neat dropshot to become only the second man ever to win four five-setters at the same claycourt tournament, emulating Goran Ivanisevic, who performed the feat in Barcelona 11 years ago.
“There’s not much difference really between this year and the last. I am back on my game. Why shouldn’t I carry out a repeat win'”
Robredo, ranked 31 in the world and playing his first Grand Slam quarter final, had beaten world No. 1 Lleyton Hewitt and three-time former winner Gustavo Kuerten of Brazil on his way to the last eight.
Facing Costa for the first time in his career, he raced into a two sets to love lead with some sublime claycourt tennis.
Ninth seed Costa had no answer to the 21-year-old’s accuracy but Robredo did not look fully fit and gradually the tide turned the champion’s way.
With Robredo visibly tiring and beginning to lose his temper, Costa took the next two sets and in the decider there was only going to be one winner.
From 2-2 in the fifth set Robredo barely won a point.
Robredo twice double-faulted to lose serve and Costa swept to a stupendous victory after three hours 28 minutes of play. Costa has spent 18-1/2 hours on court so far in defence of his only Grand Slam title.
Meanwhile, Ferrero predicted a real tough semi-final after his win. “Albert showed everybody that he has great physical strength to play that many five set matches in the tournament,” said Ferrero.
Talking about his match against Gonzalez, Ferrero added: “It was very difficult. The last two times we played, at the US Open and in Basle, he beat me in straight sets. So this is going to give me a lot of confidence.”
The last moments of the match were a fine summary of an up and down quarter final.
Ferrero seemed to have everything in perfect control, serving for the match and leading 40-0, but Gonzalez fought like a raging bull to level the score.
It took the Spaniard three more attempts to finally finish off his opponent — not with a winner but on the last of Gonzalez’s 103 unforced errors in the match.
Sanaa Bhambri and Sania Mirza extended their winning run moving into the girls doubles quarter final Tuesday. In the second round, the Indian pair defeated Mari Andersson and Megan Falcon 6-1, 6-3.