Tommy hits high notes with another comeback

Robredo pulls off third successive recovery from two-sets down to reach the quarter-finals

Roland Garros

Tommy Robredo was named after a rock opera and yesterday the 31-year-old Spaniard added a new song to what is becoming an extraordinary repertoire. Robredo, who owes his first name to his father's love of The Who's Tommy, became the first man for 86 years, and only the second in history, to win three successive Grand Slam matches from two-sets down when he beat Nicolas Almagro, to reach the French Open quarter-finals.

Having overcome Igor Sijsling in three hours in the second round and Gaël Monfils in three hours and 46 minutes in the third, Robredo needed three hours and 49 minutes to beat Almagro 6-7, 3-6, 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 in the fourth. He now faces fellow 31-year-old, David Ferrer, who has his own reputation as a marathon man.

The only other man to win three Grand Slam matches in a row from two sets down was Henri Cochet, one of France's "Four Musketeers", who fought back to beat Frank Hunter, Bill Tilden and Jean Borotra and win Wimbledon in 1927.

What makes Robredo's story even more remarkable is the fact that the former world No 5 was an all but forgotten figure 12 months ago.

Having been out of the game for eight months because of a hamstring injury, Robredo was ranked No 471 in the world when he began his comeback playing at a Challenger tournament in Italy last June.

Already back up to No 34 in the rankings, he will climb several more places on the strength of his run here.

Rafael Nadal, Ferrer and Juan Carlos Ferrero are the only Spaniards who can better Robredo's record of 85 Grand Slam wins, but he had lost all five of his previous meetings with Almagro, the last four in straight sets. The world No 13 won the first two sets here and was a break up in each of the next three, but Robredo refused to capitulate, despite a painful arm that at times made it difficult even to hold his racket. At the end he fell to his knees in tears and kissed the court.

"I was tired and feeling pain everywhere," Robredo said afterwards. "Today it was more than physical. I think it was mental, because when you have to run four hours at the end, it's the brain that helps you to run a little more. I was destroyed, but at the end my brain was pretty good."

Roger Federer extended his all-time record of consecutive appearances in Grand Slam quarter-finals to 36, but was pushed hard by Gilles Simon, an opponent who has often given him trouble in the past. Federer, who won 6-1, 4-6, 2-6, 6-2, 6-3, last failed to reach the last eight of a Grand Slam event when he lost to Gustavo Kuerten in the third round here nine years ago.

The 31-year-old Swiss won his 900th tour-level match after recovering from a slump which followed a heavy fall midway through the second set. Federer said afterwards that the tumble had briefly affected his confidence and Simon, who for a time was one of a handful of players with a positive head-to-head record against him, won the second and third sets with something to spare. But the match turned when Federer broke serve in the sixth game of the fourth set.

Federer now plays Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. The world No 8 beat Serbia's Viktor Troicki 6-3, 6-3, 6-3. Serena Williams extended her career-best winning streak to 28 matches by beating Roberta Vinci 6-1, 6-3 to earn a quarter-final against Svetlana Kuznetsova.

As Lead Partner of British Tennis, financial services company Aegon is helping to transform the sport, supporting the game at a grass-roots level through to world-class events. For more information please visit

www.aegontennis.co.uk

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