Monday 1 July 2013
After five marathon sets on Court 12, the big-serving Jerzy Janowicz played his part in setting up the first all-Polish Grand Slam quarter-final (he will meet Lucasz Kubot on Wednesday) by defeating Jurgen Melzer of Austria 3-6, 7-6(1), 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 in three hours 12 minutes of brutal attrition.
The 22-year-old Janowicz, No.24 seed at the 2013 Championships, had already posted his best-ever Grand Slam performance by reaching the fourth round, and his jubilation after rocketing down his 15th and 16th aces of the match to see off the vastly more experienced Melzer was a sight to behold.
As the final stroke, a service winner, sealed an outstanding performance, he fell to his knees, got up to perform a victory jig, sank to his knees again and finally rose to bow in thanks to the large contingent of Polish supporters who had been so vociferous in their encouragement.
The rise of the 6ft 8in Pole has been astonishing since his debut appearance at the 2012 Championships, reaching the third round as a qualifier. Eighteen months ago he ended the 2011 season with a ranking of 221 and the strains of doing so well since then were evident in the mass of black tape binding the upper part of his right arm.
The early signs for Janowicz were bleak. The 32-year-old Melzer is vastly more experienced and his court-craft skills gave him the edge in the early stages.
The Austrian is also a left-hander and Janowicz had lost four of his previous six matches against lefties. It looked as if a fifth defeat was on the cards as Melzer, boosted by an early break of the huge Polish serve, captured the opening set in 24 minutes.
At this stage, Janowicz was becoming easily distracted and upset, criticising the Moroccan umpire Mohamed El Jennati for ruling that some of his serves were net cords and gesturing at perceived bad bounces and the slipperiness of the court behind the baseline after falling a couple of times.
He criticised the court as "unplayable", adding, "Compared to Centre Court, the surface was awful, so many bad bounces."
But he cheered up a bit after fighting off five break points, which would have seen Melzer take an early lead in the second set.
There was to be no further opportunity for the Austrian to take a two-set lead, and he was overwhelmed in the tie-break, collecting only one point as Janowicz hammered down a succession of winners, roaring "C'mon" as he levelled the match.
Janowicz's huge serve, which owes something to the fact that Pete Sampras was his boyhood idol, faltered in the sixth game of the third set when he survived two break points but he steadied his game subsequently, broke Melzer to go 5-4 ahead and served out for a 2-1 lead, persuading Melzer to take a toilet break to regroup.
A refreshed Melzer promptly battled back to level the match, after Janowicz had broken for a 3-2 lead. "I should have won the match in the fourth set," said the Pole. "I was a break up and then I got nervous."
Those nerves helped Melzer to break twice, at which Janowicz took a toilet break and he was always the dominant player once he had broken to lead 2-1 in the fifth set.
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