David Ferrer was already one of his sport's most dogged competitors but the prospect of succeeding Rafael Nadal as world No 4 appears to have underlined his never-say-die approach.
The 30-year-old Spaniard, who will take his injured compatriot Nadal's place in the rankings next week, pulled off perhaps the most remarkable escape of his distinguished career here yesterday when he beat Nicolas Almagro 4-6, 4-6, 7-5, 7-6, 6-2 in the quarter-finals of the Australian Open.
Having lost the first two sets, Ferrer kept going behind in the third, during which Almagro served for the match on three occasions. Ferrer broke back each time, took the set and went on to record his 13th win in a row against Almagro and earn a semi-final meeting with Novak Djokovic.
"It was a miracle I won this match," Ferrer said afterwards. "I tried to fight and do my best, but I need to play better than today in the next round."
Ferrer, an indefatigable workhorse, played two tournaments in the build-up to the year's opening Grand Slam event.
"Of course I am tired," he said. "I ran a lot against Nico. Now I will need to rest, but I have a day and a half."
Djokovic was probably even more tired after his five-hour victory over Stanislas Wawrinka on Sunday night.
The Serb said he stayed in bed until 2.30 in the afternoon the following day. The rest appeared to have done the trick when he faced Tomas Berdych last night. Djokovic looked much more assured than he had against Wawrinka and won 6-1, 4-6, 6-1, 6-4.
The world No 1 is through to his 11th Grand Slam semi-final in succession, a record beaten only by Roger Federer, who played in 23 in a row before losing in the French Open quarter-finals to Robin Soderling three years ago. Djokovic is aiming to become the first man in the Open era to win the title here three years in a row and take his overall total to six.Reuse content