|(Miguel Medina/AFP/Getty Images)|
Around an hour into the first match today, his third-round encounter with Edouard Roger-Vasselin, it didn't really look like this was going to be a long day on court for David. He was trailing by a set and a break at 4-2, he was furious about the slippery court, and he had already received first a code violation and then a point penalty (for ball and racquet abuse).
At that moment, it would've been easy to give up. But David didn't give up - he fought back. And in the end, he didn't just win that match 4-6, 7-5, 6-3. He also won his second match, the quarterfinal against Xavier Malisse, and again after dropping the first set, 4-6, 7-6(2), 6-4.
These two victories grant David a place in the semifinal, where he'll face Grigor Dimitrov (#72) tomorrow. For David, it's the second semifinal at the Queen's Club (after 2008).
|(Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)|
David began this first match by losing his serve but was able to recover the break for 2-2. And he just seemed to be finding his rhythm when at 3-3, the rain came and stopped play for about an hour. When play resumed, David scraped through to 4-3 after saving three break points but then lost his serve to grant Roger-Vasselin a 5-4 lead, and the Frenchman served out the first set.
Early on in the second, David dropped his serve again (for 2-1). And leading 4-2, Roger-Vasselin was two games away from victory. But David broke back for 4-4 and saved two break points to get to 5-4 before in the follwing game Roger-Vasselin double-faulted to surrender his serve - and the second set.
And David carried the momentum over into the third. He broke Roger-Vasselin to go up 2-0 and after saving another break point in the next game he now grew more solid on serve. At 5-2, with the Frenchman serving to stay in the match, there was another, much shorter rain delay and when play resumed once again, David held a first match point but Roger-Vasselin snuffed it out with an ace. So David had to serve it out and he did, eventually converting his third match point.
As mentioned above, David was at odds with himself and with the conditions for much of this match. And for my part, I can't recall the last time I saw him get a point penalty. But the bigger concern during this match were those altogether 14 double faults that he committed. As well as the two hours and 14 minutes he had already spent on court, going into his second match of the day...
|(Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)|
In this match, David was off to better start, holding serve fairly comfortably and then getting the first break to go up 4-2. What exactly happened after that is impossible to say without having seen the match. But in any case, David lost the next four games in a row and consequently the first set.
At this stage, I thought that he was probably getting tired, which would've only been understandable. But David battled on and now began to cruise through his service games. At 2-1, he had three break points but couldn't convert any of them. After that the remained on serve (with David dropping only 3 points on serve) until the set went to a tiebreak - David's specialty, these days. He raced to a 6-2 lead and then immediately took his first set point.
Early on in the third set, David struggled a bit more with holding serve again and had to fend off a break point to get to 1-1. After that they remained on serve without further break points on either side until at 4-4, pretty much out of nowhere, Malisse went down 15-40. The first break point he saved with an ace but David took the second and then served out the match - to love.
I honestly don't know how he did it. It's not just that he won both of his matches. It's also that in the second one, he apparently played and served much better than in the first. Posting the kind of numbers on serve you don't get to see from him every day (including only 2 double faults but 10 aces). By all rights, he should've been tired. Physically and maybe also emotionally, after the drama of the first match. But instead, David played what he afterwards called his best match of the week against Malisse (source). - An amazing day with two amazing victories for David. Who told Jorge Viale from Fue Buena that he's tired now of course but ready for the match tomorrow.
And that match, the semifinal against Grigor Dimitrov, will see David playing on Centre Court. - At last! When so far, David's "appearance" on the streams from the Queen's Club was limited to this. But tomorrow, we'll finally get to see him play. And whatever happens in that match, this has already been a great tournament from David. A difficult one (for him and for us) but a great one.