Lukasz Kubot is can-can dancing his way through an upset-strewn bottom half of the draw to a career-best result at a major.
The 31-year-old assured Poland of its first men’s Grand Slam semi-finalist, following countryman Jerzy Janowicz into the last eight in almost parallel five-set matches and only minutes apart at Wimbledon on Monday.
The 130th-ranked Kubot battled past Frenchman Adrian Mannarino 4-6, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 in three hours and 18 minutes and promptly broke into his celebratory high-kicking folk dance routine after pounding the grass with his hand in disbelief.
The more fancied world No.22, Janowicz, spoke of the camaraderie between the two unlikely quarter-finalists moments after he took out Austrian Jurgen Melzer in five.
“Yeah, I went straightaway to his locker-room. We hugged. We are happy,” Janowicz said.
“I congratulate him. I think both we are happy because what is going on right now. I mean, is magical.”
Kubot won through two rounds of qualifying in 's-Hertogenbosch coming into The Championships but fell at the final hurdle to Nicolas Mahut and went out first round in Halle.
His sudden renaissance on grass though is by no means a fluke, having reached the last 16 here before. Two years ago, he won through three rounds of qualifying before taking out Arnaud Clement, Ivo Karlovic and then No.8 Gael Monfils before succumbing in a marathon five-setter to Feliciano Lopez.
On Monday a second shot at a Wimbledon quarter-final berth was not to go begging again.
The pivotal point came in the opening game of the decider where after a lengthy struggle, 111th-ranked Mannarino dropped serve.
For fellow former top-50 player Mannarino, it had been a year of slim pickings coming into the third Grand Slam.
He had not won a match in a tour main draw all year until this year’s Championships, falling first round at the Australian Open, Montpellier, the French Open and Queen’s and by virtue of his first-round win over Pablo Andujar, snapped a six-match losing streak at the Slams.
Serving to stay in the match at 0-40, 3-5, the Frenchman rallied to survive but could not maintain the pressure, with Kubot sealing victory on his sixth match point.
In what will be the first all-Polish clash at any Grand Slam, Kubot will be hoping to limber up for at least one more dancing routine on the grass.
“I have seen it many times,” Janowicz said.
“If he likes to do a can-can, he can do it. If it’s celebration, he can do whatever he wants.”
Just don’t expect Janowicz to follow suit.
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