The 'Bullring' bore witness to a battle royale between two fine clay-courters, but David Ferrer's doggedness proved too much for Argentina's Juan Monaco.
There could not have been a more fitting venue than the court nicknamed the “Bullring” for the intense clay-court battle between David Ferrer and Juan Monaco, the former eventually coming out on top in four sets to book his place in the third round.
An inch was not given in an enthralling encounter on No.1 Court between two of the more prolific clay-court players of recent times, with 34-year-old former Roland-Garros runner-up Ferrer eventually prevailing 6-7(4), 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 after three hours and 12 minutes.
Ferrer said: “It was very tough, always with Juan. We are physical players in our game. The court is slower and it is not easy to win with short rallies and winners. It was a good match. I felt that we both played very good. The key was in little moments.”
Monaco is currently ranked No. 92 but that belies his ability on clay and owes more to the six-month absence after surgery on his right wrist last August. That being said, the 32-year-old has not done as well as expected in Paris in recent years and was bidding to reach the third-round here for the first time since 2012.
Although Ferrer and Monaco had met eight times before, the head-to-head record tied at 4-4, this was their first meeting at a Grand Slam. The first set ebbed and flowed as they slugged it out from the baseline. Monaco had two chances to serve it out but Ferrer forced a tiebreak, in which the Argentine finally claimed it after 56 minutes on his third set point.
Three breaks were exchanged at the start of the second set before Ferrer held for 3-1 and later broke to level the match at one set all. Monaco looked to be gradually tiring, the effects of those bruising exchanges taking their toll, and fell to his knees as he hit a tame backhand slice into the net to give Ferrer the third set.
Ferrer had to work extremely hard to cross the finish line, staving off some late resistance from his opponent before sealing victory on his first match point as Monaco hit a backhand long. The relief on Ferrer’s face was evident as he now looks forward to a last-32 clash with fellow Spanish 34-year-old Feliciano Lopez on Saturday.
Ferrer said: “It’s going to be a different match. Feliciano is left-handed, he has a very good serve, so it’s very important for my return. I will try to do the same that I have done tonight and two days ago, try to play my game, be aggressive with my forehand and have intensity in my game. With Feliciano, I have to do that to have a chance to win.”