Nikolay Davydenko bustled into his first Grand Slam semi-final in the French Open and will face unseeded Argentinian Mariano Puerta for the right to contest the men's singles crown.
Spain's Tommy Robredo was Davydenko's victim yesterday, with the Russian 12th seed prevailing 3-6, 6-1, 6-2, 4-6, 6-4 after three hours and 18 minutes of high-intensity tennis.
Davydenko will celebrate his 24th birthday today, preparing for tomorrow's semi-final and with the knowledge that he is assured of a top-ten ranking next week.
Davydenko steamrollered Tim Henman en route to the Australian Open quarterfinals at the start of the year, where Andy Roddick ended his run, and he has since reached semi-finals at tour events in Doha, Barcelona and Hamburg.
"I am so happy because this is the first time I have reached the semis of a Grand Slam," he said. "I will also be part of the top ten and that's very important for me."
Davydenko admitted he felt empty after his win, one of the toughest of his career.
"I was so tired after the match that I had no feeling whatsoever about it," he added.
"The key of the match was that I maybe fought even harder than him. I had to battle on all points.
"Robredo plays so well from the baseline. I thought I would win in the fourth set but after I broke him he started playing incredibly well.
"In the fifth, when I was leading 2-0, I felt better but he fought back again.
"I got more and more tired but I tried to play my best on my last serve when I was leading 5-4 and finally it worked."
Puerta's arrival at the semi-final stage comes as a surprise.
He eliminated compatriot Guillermo Canas, the ninth seed, in another five-set thriller, coming through 6-2, 3-6, 1-6, 6-3, 6-4 after three hours and 35 minutes of hard toil.
Davydenko already has a psychological advantage to take into their match, having defeated Puerta in straight sets in the Hamburg Masters Series event at the start of May.
Like Davydenko, it will be a first Grand Slam semi-final for Puerta, who is stepping up his comeback after being banned for nine months between October 2003 and July 2004, having tested positive for clenbuterol during a tournament in Vina del Mar.
He has leapt from 440th to 37th in the world since returning to the tour.
"Being in the semis is like a revenge for me," said Puerta.
"I don't feel bitter about what happened; I don't waste my time thinking about the past.
"I have overcome what I went through. It allowed me to be stronger.
"When I was not playing, it was a very tough time to go through.
"It was strange not to be allowed to play tennis. I worked very hard to come back."
Davydenko and Puerta will inevitably concede top billing tomorrow to the semi-final between world No 1 Roger Federer, of Switzerland, and Spanish teenager Rafael Nadal.
Nadal, winner of five tournaments already this year, turns 19 tomorrow.