Gael Monfils came back from a match point down to beat second seed Andy Roddick in a thrilling final set tie-breaker on Friday to secure a spot in the Japan Open semi-finals.
The French fifth seed was 5-6 down in the tie-break before firing successive aces to lead 7-6 on his way to a 7-6 (7/5), 4-6, 7-6 (8/6) victory over the 2003 US Open champion.
"It was a great match. Both of us played great tennis," said Monfils. "I came to the net more than usual. I tried to make my forehand to control the points. I did."
The first set went with serves but Monfils emerged victorious in a series of long rallies to take a 4-0 lead in the tie-breaker.
Tied at five games apiece in the first, Monfils unleashed a backhand passing shot down the line to lead 6-5 and then won the set thanks for Roddick's backhand volley which landed in the net.
Roddick drew level in the second set, converting the only break of serve of the match.
But Monfils powered back into the match, earning a first break chance at 15-40 in the second game of the final set and another triple break chance in the 10th game at 5-4 and love-40 -- three match points.
The American fired an ace, then got to the net for a backhand volley winner, and hit another service winner for a deuce before keeping the game.
After coming back from a mini-break down in the tie-breaker to have his fourth match point at 7-6, Monfils sent a drop shot, then Roddick came to pick up, but the Frenchman fired a sizzling passing shot to win the two-hour-56-minute battle.
"I tried to be aggressive and control the points. I tried to push him to come to the net a bit more and focus on myself to hit a good first serve and good return of serve," Monfils said.
"I like the court, but it's not my favourite surface, because it's very fast. It was a good experience for the Davis Cup. We'll play on hard court.
"When you are in the semi-finals, you want to be in the final, for sure. Then if you are in the final, you want to win. First, I'm going to make recovery and I'll see tomorrow," he added.
In the semi-finals, he will take on Radek Stepanek of the Czech Republic, who received a free ticket when Jarkko Nieminen of Finalnd abandoned the match with a fever.