New York – Spain's Juan Carlos Ferrero turned back the clock once again at the U.S. Open, eking out a 7-6 (7-5), 5-7, 6-7 (5-7), 6-4, 6-4 victory Thursday afternoon over Frenchman Gael Monfils in a second-round match that lasted almost five hours.
The match was a grueling physical test for both players but especially for Ferrero, the 2003 finalist, who had already been forced to play five sets to defeat countryman Pablo Andujar in a three-and-a-half-hour first-round match on Monday.
The Spaniard, who failed to serve out the first set at 6-5, was able to salvage the set a few minutes later in the tiebreaker to take the early lead.
In the second set, the former world No. 1 let a 3-1 lead evaporate and Monfils came back to win it 7-5.
After the Frenchman took the third set in a tiebreaker, it appeared the 31-year-old Ferrero might not have the endurance to get the match back in his favor, but the Spaniard's fitness held up and he rallied to take the fourth set after breaking serve in the seventh game.
In the final set, Ferrero broke serve in the opening game and then had another chance to break two games later before squandering a 15-40 lead.
But that lone break proved decisive and the Spaniard went on to win the good-natured contest, which ended with the crowd in Louis Armstrong Stadium - and even Monfils - applauding his efforts.
Next up for Ferrero in the third round will be countryman Marcel Granollers, who defeated Kazakhstan's Mikhail Kukushkin 7-5, 6-3, 6-4 in another second-round match on Thursday.
Another Spaniard, Fernando Verdasco, reached the third round with a comfortable 6-4, 6-3, 6-1 victory over Turkey's Marsel Ilhan.
In men's action Thursday involving Latin American players, Argentina's Juan Monaco also advanced to the third round, defeating Czech Radek Stepanek 6-4, 6-1, 2-0, ret., but Colombia's Alejandro Falla was defeated by Germany's Tommy Haas 7-6 (7-5), 6-1, 7-5.
The U.S. Open is the last of the four Grand Slam events on the tennis calendar.