Five-set matches at the US Open come in all shapes and sizes. There are the back-and-forth battles where players take turns trading sets, the ones where a player lets a big lead slip before ultimately prevailing in the end and, of course, the fifth-set tiebreaker.
But in sheer terms of excitement and drama, few matches captivate fans quite like rallying from the brink of defeat to snatch victory.
Of the 21 five-set matches at the 2017 US Open, just two saw a player lose the first two sets and still win the match.
The first was Janko Tipsarevic rallying to a 6-7, 3-6, 6-1, 7-6, 6-3 victory over Aussie Thanasi Kokkinakis. The 33-year-old Serb looked down and out after dropping the opening two sets, but he cruised through the third and was three points from a first-round exit in the fourth set.
With momentum firmly on his side, Tipsarevic won four of the first five games in the decider and raced out to a 5-2 lead. Kokkinakis saved four match points, including three on his serve at 2-5, but it was Tipsarevic who prevailed in four hours, 10 minutes to advance to the second round.
The other match to see a player come back from two sets down was also arguably the best match of the US Open. It pitted former US Open champion Juan Martin del Potro against sixth-seeded Dominic Thiem in a highly anticipated fourth-round clash in the Grandstand.
The Argentine had not dropped a set on his way to the fourth round, while Thiem had won nine of the 10 sets he played during his first week in Flushing.
It quickly became apparent that del Potro was struggling – he later revealed he had a fever and had difficulty with his breathing – and Thiem established a two-set lead behind a pair of breaks in each of the first two sets.
In what del Potro described as one of his most epic matches at the US Open, he fought back into the contest in the third set and saved a pair of match points in the fourth. Nine consecutive holds took the battle to 5-4 in the fifth set, but a Thiem double fault on del Potro’s second match point capped a comeback for the ages that won’t soon be forgotten.
“I was trying to retire the match in the second set,” del Potro said after the win. “Then I saw the crowd waiting for more tennis, waiting for my good forehands, good serves. I took all that energy to change in a good way and think about fight and not retire.”