Paris: French Open miracle man Tommy Robredo, the first player in 86 years to win three successive Grand Slam matches from two sets to love down, revealed he could hardly hold his racquet because of pain.
Robredo, 31, clinched a 6-7 (5/7), 3-6, 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 win over 11th seeded Spanish compatriot Nicolas Almagro on Sunday to earn a place in the Roland Garros quarter-finals.
Having also defeated Dutchman Igor Sijsling and French wildcard Gael Monfils in similar dramatic marathon circumstances, Robredo became the first man since Henri Cochet at Wimbledon in 1927 to win three on the bounce from such a deficit.
As well as being two sets down, Robredo was 4-1 down in the third, trailing 4-2 in the fourth and a break down at 2-0 in the decider.
"I was tired and in pain. I thought I had to win the first set or it would be very tough," said Robredo, who missed the 2011 and 2012 French Opens after undergoing leg surgery which sent his ranking sinking to 471 in the world.
"But I lost the first set and the pain was crazy. I couldn't hold my racquet for a couple of games.
"So to come back, it's a lovely dream. I was down in all of the last three sets, but I just pushed hard. I was just dreaming of winning the third set. Then I dreamt of winning the fourth set and then the last and I did it.
"Now I have to enjoy and remember what I have done, it'll give me more power."
Robredo has now spent over 12 hours on court at the French Open getting to his fifth quarter-final, 10 years after his first in 2003.
He will have to get past Spanish friend David Ferrer, the fourth seed and a semi-finalist in 2012, who has reached the last-eight without dropping a set.
Robredo, a former world number five, twice broke down in tears after his defeat of Almagro against whom he had a record of 0-5 head-to-head going into Sunday's fourth round clash.
But the 32nd seed, playing in sunglasses and one of the few players to employ the classic one-handed backhand, was determined to make up for lost time, having missed most of 2011 and playing a restricted schedule in 2012.
He underwent surgery to repair a hamstring in February 2011 and didn't start his 2012 campaign until the week after Roland Garros when he won a low-key, second-tier Challenger event in Italy.
"I never thought all this would happen when I was five in the world. But I have focussed on coming back and I have done it. Now I don't think about the surgery or the injury."
Robredo was one of the form players coming into Paris, winning his 11th career title in Casablanca and reaching the semi-finals, also on clay, in Buenos Aires.
"I have repaired my body. I have erased what happened to me. But it was an experience I had to go through. You can learn from bad experiences as well as good."