Rarely does one single rally sum up a match so perfectly.
With the score poised at 4-all midway through the second set, compatriots Gilles Simon and Gael Monfils slugged it out for a had-to-be-seen-to-be-believed 71-shot exchange. That single point lasted two minutes and nine seconds.
As for the match itself? That was a four hour and 43 minute all-French war of attrition. As for the victor? Simon took the spoils 6-4 6-4 4-6 1-6 8-6 in a performance that will be remembered for its sheer guts and determination.
The final fifth set was a one hour 34 minute epic in itself, as both players pushed themselves seemingly beyond the realms of the physically possible. Simon struggled through leg and forearm cramps, while Monfils battled hand blisters. And those were just the obvious ailments.
As Saturday turned into Sunday, receiving massages and treatment at the change of ends became routine.
Multiple breaks of serve at the beginning of the fifth added to the drama, before Simon had the opportunity to serve for the match at 5-4. However Monfils, steadily chugging his way though cans of Coke at changeovers, leveled at 5-all.
When he earned another opportunity to end the match, Simon didn’t make the same mistake twice. He again toppled the Monfils serve before closing it out 8-6, letting out a roar before sharing an embrace with his fellow combatant at the net.
Although they both play under the same flag, you’d be hard-pressed to find a pair with more contrasting auras.
Heading into their fifth meeting on the ATP, the cool, calm consistency of Simon painted a polar opposite image to the free-wheeling, flamboyant and regularly-fluctuating style of Monfils.
Monfils, again sporting a florescent tank top brighter than the tennis balls themselves, entered Hisense Arena with headphones in his ears and with a strut to his walk akin to that of a boxer’s. His opponent, almost sheepish in nature, made an inconspicuous entry wearing aptly-conservative grey attire.
If the pair were boxers, it would be fair to say neither threw any major punches or struck any blows in the opening stages.
While still exchanging lengthy rallies, the pair seemed content to wait for the other to take the initiative. It looked as if they were conserving energy in expectation of what was to come.
The match progressed on serve until Simon pressed at the right moment. It took four set points, but a well-weighted drop volley saw the 28-year-old take the set 6-4.
Simon then surged to a 3-0 lead at the beginning of the second as his opponent began to vent his frustrations verbally.
But as he so often does, Monfils , despite looking at his worst, somehow found a way to conjure his best tennis. As both worked one another to all corners of the court, the trademark Monfils hustle was in full effect, as he levelled for 4-all.
However, Simon regrouped. A lob over the reaching Monfils racquet gave Simon set point, before a barrage of cross court forehands saw him push his opponent one stretch too far, taking the set 6-4.
With Simon starting to show signs of cramp, Monfils kept the match alive by taking third set 6-4.
Simon’s physical condition continued to deteriorate and his opponent capitalised, with Monfils racing through the fourth 6-1 to send the match into what became a lengthy, memorable decider.
The ‘reward’ for Simon’s toil? A quarterfinal matchup with reigning US Open champion and third seed Andy Murray on Monday.