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Biggest Comebacks Of 2013: Top 5

Best Of 2013

MurrayAll images © Getty ImagesAndy Murray kept his Wimbledon title hopes alive with a stirring comeback from two sets down against Fernando Verdasco. reviews the Top 5 comebacks of the year.

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5. Andy Murray d. Fernando Verdasco 4-6, 3-6, 6-1, 6-4, 7-5, Wimbledon Quarter-finals

It was an answered prayer in the sanctuary of the tennis world: a looping crosscourt forehand that was as languid in pace as it was poignant and captivating. Held prisoner deep behind the baseline, Andy Murray faced a barrage of forehands from Fernando Verdasco – 12 to be exact – biding his time before a backhand slice approach pinned the Scot into the deuce corner. Forced to discover a sensational angle on the run, Murray brought the Centre Court faithful, who had been waiting restlessly for one hour and fifteen minutes, to their feet in a moment that charged the eventual champion to victory.

Verdasco was serving for a two-sets-to-none lead in the Wimbledon quarter-finals when Murray flicked the momentous forehand pass, a shot that would lead to a trio of break points for the Dunblane native. The Spaniard would fight to hold and secure the set, behind a particularly impressive display of power and finesse, but the tide had already turned in Murray’s favour with that point. A generous contribution of unforced errors would open the door for Murray in the third set as he broke Verdasco’s serve in the second game and never looked back. The World No. 2 saved all four break points faced from then on, securing his 16th consecutive win on grass, seventh comeback from two sets down and resuscitating his quest to snap Great Britain’s 77-year Wimbledon drought.

Watch Match Highlights (courtesy of Wimbledon)

“You’re more concerned about losing the match, not thinking so much that, ‘I’m going to lose at Wimbledon,’” said Murray. “You're concerned how the match is going and that you may lose. But when you’ve been in that position a lot of times, you know how to think through it and not get too far ahead of yourself. I definitely didn’t rush when I went two sets to love down. I slowed myself down, if anything, and that was a good sign.”

It was an inspired showing from the former World No. 7 Verdasco in defeat, who was playing in just his third Grand Slam quarter-final since his sensational run to the Australian Open semis in 2009. During that fortnight Down Under, the Spaniard executed an impressive comeback to defeat Murray in the fourth round in what would be his only victory in nine previous meetings. Verdasco fell behind 2-6, 6-1, 1-6 before storming back to win in five sets. On 3 July 2013, Murray would reciprocate in kind.

4. Rogerio Dutra Silva d. Vasek Pospisil 4-6, 3-6, 7-6(9), 6-2, 7-6(10) – Saved 7 M.P., US Open First Round

The drama was palpable on Court 14 at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center as Rogerio Dutra Silva, a Brazilian qualifier ranked No. 134 in the Emirates ATP Ranking, saved seven match points to edge Vasek Pospisil 12-10 in a fifth set tie-break in the first round of the US Open. It was the most match points saved in a winning effort at a Grand Slam since 2004, when Vincent Spadea defeated Florent Serra in the first round at Roland Garros, fighting off nine match points in the process.

Postponed by rain with Dutra Silva trailing two sets to one but leading 4-0 in the fourth set, the matchDutra Silva spanned two days and lasted just over four hours. Pospisil fired 21 aces but would be victimised by 15 double faults. The comeback win was the 29-year-old Dutra Silva’s lone tour-level victory of 2013 and second five-set triumph at the US Open in as many years. He would go on to lose to Rafael Nadal in straight sets in the second round.

“I didn’t think about the seven match points,” said Dutra Silva in an interview with following the match. “Yesterday I was too confused because I was actually near to win the match and it starts to rain. To be seven match points down and win this match was unbelievable.”

3. David Ferrer d. Nicolas Almagro 4-6, 4-6, 7-5, 7-6(4), 6-2, Australian Open Quarter-finals

There are few superlatives that accurately describe David Ferrer’s perseverance and resolve on the court. Very few, if any, can execute a better gameplan of assessing and exploiting an opponent’s weaknesses, regardless of the stage of the match. Such was the case at the Australian Open, when the determined Spaniard denied compatriot Nicolas Almagro his first Grand Slam semi-final in dramatic fashion, storming back from down two sets for his 500th tour-level match win. Almagro was broken three times while serving for the match, at 5-4 in the third set and 5-4 and 6-5 in the fourth. 

Almagro was looking to become the fourth different Spaniard to reach the Australian Open semi-finals in five years, joining Ferrer, Rafael Nadal and Fernando Verdasco, but he would fail to garner a match point. 

Ferrer“I tried to fight every point, every game,” said Ferrer. “I know all players in important moments are nervous. I try to do my best. Today I was close to losing. But finally I came back. I always try to do my best, to fight a lot. If I am to lose, I would like to lose fighting. I never give up.”

Almagro held a break lead on three occasions in the fourth set, but was unable to maintain his edge, with the countrymen exchanging six consecutive breaks from 3-3 to force a tie-break, which Ferrer captured following an early mini-break. It was his first tie-break victory at the Australian Open since 2004, having dropped 13 straight since. Almagro would receive treatment for a groin injury before the deciding set commenced and Ferrer would only get stronger and build confidence from there. The Murcia native succumbed to the physical and mental toll of facing his fellow Spaniard, striking 56 unforced errors in sets 3-5 after spraying just 19 in the first two.

The 31-year-old Ferrer extended his FedEx ATP Head2Head advantage over Almagro to a perfect 13-0 with the win. He became the 39th player in the Open Era to enter the 500-win club as well, to be later joined by Novak Djokovic at Roland Garros.

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2. Tomas Berdych d. Novak Djokovic 2-6, 7-5, 6-4, Rome Quarter-finals

Novak Djokovic boasted an insurmountable 6-2, 5-3 lead against Tomas Berdych as he approached the clay-stained baseline at the Foro Italico, one service hold from booking a spot in the semi-finals of the Internazionali BNL d'Italia for a third consecutive year.

“I lost concentration and started to play more defensively,” lamented the Serb.

Three forehand errors later and the two-time champion suddenly faced his first break point of the match. ABerdych sublime down-the-line backhand by Berdych would punctuate the break and Djokovic was left ruing his missed opportunity. The Houdini act continued as Berdych astonishingly reeled off eight of nine games to close out the second set and grab the early advantage in the third.

Djokovic had won 11 previous meetings with the Czech, since Wimbledon 2010, and 13 of 14 overall, but the sixth-seed’s sutured gameplan proved to be flawless. Berdych powered past an increasingly passive Djokovic with a litany of winners from both wings – 45 in total. He surrendered a 40/0 lead when serving for the match, but converted his fourth match point to advance to his third ATP World Tour Masters 1000 semi-final of the year. Berdych fell to a red hot Rafael Nadal in the semi-finals a day later, but the 28 year old would go on to register a career-high five wins against top-five opposition in 2013. 

“It was a great match and I am happy,” said Berdych. “I was trying to stay positive from the beginning. He didn't give me a single chance. I was trying to stay there and there are matches when you don't get a single chance, but then if you get one, then you are ready. Then everything could turn the other way and this is what happened.”

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1. Tommy Robredo’s record three consecutive comebacks from down two sets at Roland Garros

The 2013 edition of Roland Garros was a Grand Slam for the ages – literally. 

A tournament that featured a history-making eighth title by Rafael Nadal and multiple thrilling five-setters, the fortnight in Paris will be perhaps most remembered for its heroic performances from its elder statesmen.

With Roger Federer, David Ferrer, Tommy Haas and Tommy Robredo still alive during the second week of action, it marked the first time that half of the quarter-final field at a Grand Slam was aged 30 or older in more than 30 years. At 31, Robredo advanced to his fifth quarter-final at Roland Garros in record-breaking fashion, mounting a record three consecutive comeback victories from two sets down. The Spaniard became the first man to achieve the feat since Henri Cochet at Wimbledon in 1927.

The saga began with a 6-7(2), 4-6, 6-3, 6-1, 6-1 turnaround against Igor Sijsling in the second round andRobredo continued to build as Robredo stormed back to defeat home favourite and wild card Gael Monfils 2-6, 6-7(5), 6-2, 7-6(3), 6-2 in the third round. With a seemingly depleted tank, he stunningly mustered a third reversal of fortunes against No. 11 seed Nicolas Almagro, prevailing 6-7(5), 3-6, 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 in the Round of 16. In total, Robredo spent over 10 and a half hours on court between the three comebacks, was a combined 20 of 44 on break point chances and struck 171 winners. 

“I think that being in the quarter-finals again, it’s amazing, and also with three comebacks the way I did,” said Robredo. “I just need to enjoy it because I think that in tennis, we need to enjoy it when we do great things and keep focused.”

The 5’11” ATP World Tour veteran entered Roland Garros following a torrid run through the clay season, which included his first title in over two years, in Casablanca, and consecutive quarter-finals runs in Barcelona and Oeiras. Just a year prior, Robredo was ranked No. 470 in the Emirates ATP Rankings and battling at an ATP Challenger Tour event in Italy following a 14-month stint on the sidelines with a significant leg injury.

The current World No. 18’s longevity is a testament to his work ethic and belief in his game. “I was just focused to try to come back and I did it, and now I’m focused on trying to win every match and enjoying every day.”

Following yet another shining moment on the Grand Slam stage, in shocking Roger Federer in the US Open fourth round, Robredo’s inspirational performances left an indelible mark on the 2013 season.

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Coming Monday... Best Photos of 2013

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