A five-set match is the ultimate test of a player's mental fortitude, stamina and endurance. It is what separates the men from the boys.
Grand Slam tournaments and the Davis Cup till 2018 are the only tournaments on the tour that feature this format. And many players who are good in the best-of-three-sets format, struggle to replicate their success when they are required to win a third set.
That is evident in the fact that there are quite a few players who have won multiple Masters 1000 tournaments, but not a single Major. Some of these players have never even gone beyond the semifinal stage of a Grand Slam.
A case in point is the supremely talented German Alexander Zverev. One of the youngest three-time Masters 1000 and ATP Finals champions of all time, Zverev has only made one semifinal and two Grand Slam quarterfinal appearances in 19 attempts.
Winning a best-of-five set match, especially against a good opponent, requires skill, mental resilience and physical conditioning to an extent not usually required in a best-of-three-sets clash. Hence, success at Grand Slam tournaments - which are five-set affairs - are considered the ultimate barometer of a player's mettle and pedigree.
There have been numerous instances where a player dominates large swathes of a match and wins the first two sets, but is unable to close out victory. And if you do that against a proven champion and let the match go to a deciding fifth set, you are inviting trouble.
Only 10 players in the Open Era have won over 30 fifth-set matches, a list that comprises of just three active players. But what about coming back from a two-sets-to-love deficit? The list of players to have done that on multiple occasions is even shorter.
In his first-round match at the ongoing 2020 US Open, Andy Murray recovered from a two-sets-to-love deficit before beating inspired Japanese Yoshihito Nishikoka. In doing so, the three-time Major champion joined his fellow Big 4 peer Roger Federer at the top of the list of players with the most wins from two sets down.
On that note, let us have a look at the six players with the most successful comebacks from two-sets-to-love deficits.
Todd Martin (9)
Todd Martin is one of six players to have successfully recovered a two-set deficit at least nine times in the Open Era. The American won 23 fifth-set matches in his career, winning nine of them after he fell two sets behind.
All nine such instances happened in Grand Slam tournaments - thrice at the Australian Open, twice at Wimbledon and four times at the US Open.
Vitas Gerulaitis (9)
The late Vitas Gerulaitis, like Todd Martin, won 22 fifth-set matches during his career. And like Todd Martin, the 1977 Australian Open champion also won nine matches from a two-set deficit.
Six of these instances happened at Grand Slam tournaments - twice each at Roland Garros, Wimbedon and US Open.
Andy Murray (10)
The Scot's stay in New York seemed destined to be short-lived as he fell behind two sets and a break in his opener against Japan's Yoshihito Nishikoka. But Murray rallied to win the third set and then saved a match-point in the fourth, before recovering another break deficit in the fifth to move into the second round.
In doing so, the 2012 champion joined Roger Federer as one of only two active players to have won at least 10 matches from two sets down. Overall, it was the 24th time in 36 attempts that Murray had won a match in the fifth set.
It also marked the fourth time Murray had come from two sets down to win a match at Flushing Meadows. The previous such occasion was a second-round win over Adrian Mannarino in the 2015 edition of the competition.
Murray has also successfully recovered two-set deficits thrice apiece at Roland Garros and Wimbledon.
Roger Federer (10)
Roger Federer is one of only 12 men in the Open Era to have successfully clawed back a two-set deficit at all four Grand Slam tournaments. The Swiss maestro joined this illustrious club when he beat Colombian Alejandro Falla in the opening round at Wimbledon 2010.
Overall, the 20-time Grand Slam champion has come back from two sets down on nine occasions at a Major, with the last such occasion being his Wimbledon 2016 quarterfinal against Marin Cilic. Roger Federer's one other win from two sets down came in the 2005 Miami Masters final against Rafael Nadal.
The 39-year-old has successfully overhauled two-set deficits once at the Australian Open, thrice each at Roland Garros and Wimbledon, and twice at the US Open.
Boris Becker (10)
Boris Becker, like Roger Federer, is one of 12 men to have won from two sets down at all four Grand Slam tournaments. In another similarity with Federer, Becker has also won 32 fifth-set matches in his illustrious career.
The youngest Wimbledon champion in the Open Era has successfully clawed two-set deficits twice at the Australian Open, once at Roland Garros, once at Wimbledon and thrice at the US Open. Becker has also achieved the feat three times outside a Major.
Aaron Krickstein (10)
Aaron Krickstein was the first player to successfully recover two-set deficits on at least 10 occasions. Since then, only three other players have managed to emulate his feat.
The American has done so once each at the Australian Open and Roland Garros, and on a record five occasions at the US Open. On two other occasions outside a Major, Krickstein won from a two-set deficit.
Overall, the American's fifth-set record of 28-9 (75.7%) is the 10th-best in the Open Era and is a shade above that of a certain Novak Djokovic (32-10; 75.6%).Published 03 Sep 2020, 19:58 IST