Ginepri outlasts Coria in five sets

Updated: September 8, 2005, 9:50 PM ET
Associated Press

NEW YORK -- Robby Ginepri, an unsung, unseeded American toiling hard through the U.S. Open, gutted his way out of trouble and got the gift of Guillermo Coria's 13th and 14th double-faults on the last two points to reach a Grand Slam semifinal for the first time.

Ginepri, a 22-year-old who had never gone beyond the third round of the Open, won his third straight five-setter against a seeded player, 4-6, 6-1, 7-5, 3-6, 7-5, Wednesday and guaranteed that an American will play in the final.

Ginepri's opponent in the semis Saturday will be Andre Agassi, who beat James Blake in an epic five-set night match.

"The last three matches took so much out of me, I'm just dead right now," Ginepri told the crowd as his family, suffering and celebrating on alternate points, watched from the players' box. His sister, Jenni, took photos as he spoke. "I don't know how I got through that match.

"I don't know what's going on right now. I'm a little foggy, a little dizzy. It's crazy. Crazy!"

Ginepri's victory over the No. 8 Coria, the Argentine who was a French Open finalist last year, took just over three hours and ended with a dramatic series of six match points.

Coria overcame three match points after a double-fault to love-40 in the 10th game of the final set as the two players, each wearing white caps backward, engaged in long rallies.

Coria was involved in a tempest with Chilean Nicolas Massu in his previous match, but against Ginepri there was nothing but respect. On one point earlier in the fifth set, the players gave each other a high-five at the net when they combined for a particularly thrilling point -- a beautifully angled drop shot by Coria, a full-court running scoop by Ginepri feathered barely over the net, and a putaway backhand half-volley winner by Coria.

Now trailing 4-5, Coria saved the second match point with a backhand, and the third with a brazen overhead from the baseline that skipped off the top of the net cord. He held to 5-5 after one more long rally.

After serving his ninth ace at 124 mph to hold for a 6-5 lead in the fifth set, Ginepri jumped out to his fourth match point at 30-40 on Coria's serve when the wearying Argentine slapped a forehand just wide. Nervous, Ginepri pulled the front of his yellow shirt up to chomp on it with his teeth, then tried to close out the match. Instead, he saw Coria save the point with a forehand that Ginepri stretched to reach but netted.

Three points later, Coria mishit a backhand wide to give Ginepri a fifth match point. Coria saved that with a surprising serve and volley. That was all Coria had left. He double-faulted to set up the sixth match point and double-faulted again to lose.

Coria said he had been having problems with the nerve in his right hand and wasn't able to grip the racket hard.

"I was losing feeling on the hand," Coria said in Spanish while motioning with his right pinkie. "It has been happening for four days.

"I had a lot of treatment ... but during the match, the more I serve, the more it gets tight -- the forearm, the shoulder. I knew it could happen. That's just the way it is."

Coria, who missed last year's Open because of a shoulder injury that needed surgery, said he was worn out by his five-set victory over Massu two days earlier -- at 4 hours, 32 minutes the longest match of the tournament.

"It was a tough break that the match with Massu was so long," Coria said. "My whole body was hurting. It was hard to keep up the same speed I had. But I gave it all -- ran, tried hard and gave it all I could. He won because he deserved it. He's been waiting for a moment like this for a long time."


Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press

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