9/7/12 12:57 AM | Ricky Dimon
David Ferrer overcomes Janko Tipsarevic in a fifth-set tiebreaker on Thursday to reach the U.S. Open semifinals. Ferrer awaits either Novak Djokovic or Juan Martin Del Potro.
This one had just about about everything. But it only had one winner, and David Ferrer was the last man standing on Thursday afternoon.
Ferrer outlasted Janko Tipsarevic 6-3, 6-7(5), 2-6, 6-3, 7-6(4) in an epic U.S. Open quarterfinal that lasted four hours and 31 minutes. The Spaniard survived a grueling, somewhat controversial 82-minute final set to book a spot in his fourth Grand Slam semifinal.
Ferrer dropped serve right away and and lost the first two games of the match, but he quickly restored order to the proceedings. New York's No. 4 seed won six of the next seven games, breaking at 1-2 and 3-2. He wrapped up the set with a solid hold in the ninth game, clinching it with a service winner.
Tipsarevic raised his level in the second to equal that of his opponent, and the result was one of the most entertaining sets of the tournament. Both men held the entire way, but not before an epic struggle with Tipsarevic serving at 5-5. The Serb fought off four break points thanks to clutch play and that ultimately allowed him to force a tiebreaker.
A high-quality 'breaker began with three straight mini-breaks and ended with nine consecutive points to the server. Tipsarevic rocketed an incredible backhand pass for 2-1, which proved to be the difference. Ferrer eventually saved two set points at 3-6 and 4-6, but Tipsarevic finished it off with a perfect inside-out forehand.
With momentum in hand, Tipsarevic heated up even more in the third--a feat that did not seem possible. The world No. 9 rifled a backhand return winner on break point at 2-2 to win a game that had traipsed through four deuces. He broke again at 4-2 by forcing Ferrer into a forehand error and quickly served out the set at love.
One of the most well-respected fighters on tour, Ferrer rose to the occasion with his back against the wall in set four. The fifth-ranked Spaniard battled out of a double-break-point hole at 1-1 to keep himself within striking distance and thus he was able to apply pressure on Tipsarevic. Ferrer earned the crucial break at 4-3, converting his second chance when his opponent netted a backhand. A love hold in the 10th game appropriately pushed the match to a decisive fifth set.
And what a fifth it was; with jaw-dropping rallies, plenty of drama, terrible line calls, a smidgen of bad blood, and a decisive tiebreaker to settle it. Tipsareic raced to a 4-1 lead to get the momentum back, but never-say-die Ferrer fought back and recovered the break at 2-4.
Things started to get really crazy when Tipsarevic served at 4-4. Trailing 15-40, the two-time quarterfinalist called for an immediate medical timeout to get his thigh wrapped. Clearly unscathed, he came right back out and won four consecutive points to hold. An unhappy Ferrer responded with a clutch hold at 4-5, complete with two shouts of "vamos" aimed directly at his opponent.
Two holds later a 'breaker had to decide the match. Because thrilling baseline exchanges had been the norm in this one, more than a few mini-breaks could have been expected. Instead, it all came down to just a single return point won, which went Ferrer's way when Tipsarevic netted a backhand on the eighth point. Ferrer closed it out on serve from there, capitalizing on his first match point at 6-4 by forcing Tipsarevic into another error.
"I enjoyed a lot playing this match with Janko; of course because I won," said Ferrer, who awaits either Novak Djokovic or Juan Martin Del Potro. "But it was a very emotional match; one of the best, emotional matches of my career."
"It's not maybe the quarterfinal they wanted to see, without Rafa being there," Tipsarevic admitted. "But I think David and me--and I'm not trying to over-exaggerate anything--played the best match of the tournament."
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