- They say good luck comes in threes, and it was so nearly the case for Jefferson Drake as yet again he came back from a horror start to be on the cusp of victory. Set the task of upsetting the world's best clay court player, the eighth seed looked understandably nervous early on and, what's more, completely out of his depth as Daniel Páez Blanco shut him out of the first set 6-0. But it was clear that his third round win (1-6 in the first set) and fourth round win (0-6 in the first set) were not flukes, and the commentators still inexplicably gave him a chance. Any chance they gave him against the defending champion after the first set fell away at 3-3 in the second as he let a 40-0 lead slip to be broken twice and drop the set 3-6.
Down two-sets to love and up a certain creek minus a conveyancing device, Drake spent the best part of the break between sets with a towel over his head swearing at himself. It seemed to be the impetus he needed as he started to put away those loose forehands from Blanco with some of his typical enthusiasm and led by a break in the third set. The grinding style of the Spaniard allowed him to break back to be square at 4-4, but immediately after his normally rock solid concentration slipped and he put a regulation rally forehand into the net to hand Drake a 5-4 lead. The eighth seed, sensing his opportunity, kicked it up a notch and served out the third set 6-4 with an ace out wide.
All of a sudden the French crowd were sensing something, and Drake was quick to get them involved as he came to the net to put away an attempted pass from Blanco with an athletic stretch to his backhand side. That gave him a 2-1 lead, and the World No. 8 was no longer playing catch up as Blanco was left to try to scrap his way back into the set. No one on the tour is better at fighting than Blanco, and he created no less than six break point opportunities in the fourth set. Drake, however, was cool under the pressure and had clearly eased into the match after his disastrous start. He held on under immense pressure to take the World No. 2 into a fifth set on clay for the first time in his career.
In a nailbiting affair, both players proved very strong on serve as neither faced down a break point in their opening four service games respectively. Then, at 15-30, Blanco sent a backhand wide to give Drake his first look at a chance to serve for the match. Unfortunately for the eighth seed, Blanco showed immeasurable resolve to face them down by drawing an error from Drake in a long rally and then acing him down the centre to draw the game to deuce. Drake couldn't get a read on the veteran's first serve, and all of a sudden was serving at 4-5 to stay in the match.
Despite taking the first point, Drake was in trouble as his failure to capitalise on at least the first break point took its toll on his confidence. Handing Blanco two match points with a backhand that just went wide (he got the umpire to check the mark for him), a brave Jefferson Drake was sent packing by the defending champion with an unfortunate double fault to end the match - Blanco into the semi finals 6-0, 6-3, 4-6, 4-6, 6-4. Despite the loss, Drake produced probably the best performance of his career and looks primed to be a real contender at the home of tennis in just three weeks time.
- His opponent in the semi finals will be sixth seed Rasmus Olesen who ended the dream run of unseeded super-veteran Jean-Alain Depuis. Contending with a highly vocal Centre Court crowd, Olesen recovered from an unfortunate second set to move into his second Slam semi of the season with an impressive 7-5, 3-6, 6-2, 6-4 win.
- Seeded players out: Jefferson Drake.