David Ferrer clawed back from two sets down to overhaul his Spanish Davis Cup team-mate Nicolas Almagro in five sets and reach the semi-finals of the Australian Open on Tuesday.
Almagro, the 10th seed, served for the match three times in the third set only to blow his chance to reach his first ever Grand Slam semi-final as fourth seed Ferrer charged back to win the 3hr 44min rollercoaster.
Ferrer finished too strongly for Almagro with two more service breaks in the fifth set to win 4-6, 4-6, 7-5, 7-6 (7/4), 6-2.
The never-say-die Spaniard will now take on the winner of the quarter-final between defending champion Novak Djokovic and Tomas Berdych, which will take place later on Tuesday.
It will be Ferrer’s second semi-final appearance at the Australian Open after beating celebrated compatriot Rafael Nadal in the 2011 quarter-finals, while his victory over Almagro was his 500th Tour-level career match win.
Almagro was poised for his first victory over Ferrer in 13 meetings, and first Grand Slam semi-final in 34 attempts, before he tightened as he attempted to serve out for the match.
He was broken for the first time in the match and again in his next service game to lose the set and give Ferrer a way back into the quarter-final.
There were eight service breaks in the fourth set before Ferrer levelled the match in the tiebreaker and then polished off the cramping Almagro in the fifth set to complete a fighting victory.
“It was a miracle that I won this match. Nicolas had a lot of chances to beat me and I tried to fight for every point,” Ferrer said.
“That’s my game, I always try to fight and do my best. I know in the important moments I played more consistently.
“I could see that he was cramping in the fifth set and he played with little power and I was focused on every point.”
There were a total of 15 service breaks in the match with Ferrer getting eight of them, and both players made more errors than winners.
It was further anguish for Almagro who played in the deciding rubber as the Czech Republic beat Spain in the Davis Cup final in Prague last November.