Hanging in for the win

Updated: May 25, 2004, 4:14 PM ET
By Greg Garber | ESPN.com

PARIS -- Two Americans, subscribing to the Yogi Berra maxim "It ain't over, 'til it's over," nearly waited until it was too late on Monday. Yet, somehow, Lisa Raymond and Vince Spadea prevailed.

Raymond was down 0-6, 0-5 to Lubomira Kurhajcova -- spotting her a preposterous 11 games -- before rallying to win, 0-6, 7-5, 6-3. Spadea trailed France's Florent Serra 1-5 in the fifth set but closed famously for a 7-5, 1-6, 4-6, 7-6 (7), 9-7 victory that went a staggering 4 hours and 32 minutes.

Spadea saved nine -- count them, nine -- match points against the qualifier. It was his seventh consecutive five-set match victory.

"I wasn't feeling particularly that well, so I went out and kind of hit every ball," Spadea explained later. "I was like, 'Just give it away. Forget this tournament.' And everything went in."

Spadea is in the midst of a terrific season. After Andre Agassi and Andy Roddick, he has been America's next best male singles player. He won at Scottsdale earlier this year and currently sits 15th in the ATP Champions Race. His recent Grand Slam history did not suggest success at Roland Garros. He fell out of his last three majors in the first round. Last year here, Spadea lost in the third round to eventual finalist Martin Verkerk.

Four of Spadea's 10 five-set victories (against only three losses) have come at the French Open.

"Obviously, the crowd wasn't really interested in me winning the match," Spadea said of the pro-French sentiment. "It was two against one, and it was beating me down. We're out here on a practice court at 11 a.m. on a Monday, I'll be the first one out of the tournament and people will think I just finished practicing. It's going to be a hard explanation to even my dad or any kind of innocent bystander."

And so, Spadea is still in the tournament, while Agassi is out.

"It's a shocking result," Spadea said. "But I think it just shows that every player is as good as the top on any given day."

On this day, Raymond and Spadea were just good enough.

Greg Garber is a senior writer for ESPN.com.

Greg Garber

Writer, Reporter
Greg Garber joined ESPN in 1991 and provides reports for NFL Countdown and SportsCenter. He is also a regular contributor to Outside the Lines and a senior writer for ESPN.com.

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