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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Andreyev Sees Light at End of Long Tunnel

ReutersAndreyev has battled back from career-threatening injury to flourish in Paris.
PARIS -- Sitting at home in Moscow last May and resting his injured knee on a foot stool, Igor Andreyev was beginning to enjoy the enforced break a little too much.

Then reality struck.

"I had a great summer. Probably the best summer for maybe seven years. I was enjoying spending time with my friends ... but then you realize tennis is your life," said the 23-year-old, who underwent surgery in April 2006 to repair damaged cartilage.

"And you start missing it so much."

He was ranked 27th in the world when he got fed up of hobbling around court and chose to go under the surgeon's knife. By the time he took his first tentative steps back into competitive action in October, his ranking had nosedived to 100.

The new season brought little respite for Andreyev as he zigzagged the world with stopovers in India, Australia, South America, Dubai, Miami and Europe. No matter how exotic the location, he could not string together more than two wins at the 12 events he had entered in 2007.

Tournament No. 13 was the French Open and when the Russian, now ranked 125th, saw that he had been lined up against third seed Andy Roddick, he could have been forgiven for thinking he was in for another flying visit.

But 13 turned out to be his lucky number, and the Russian with a lethal forehand has finally strung together four wins for the first time since January 2006.

His reward is a place in the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam for the first time.

"Being in the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam for the first time in my life is a big deal for me," said Andreyev, who will next look to end sixth seed Novak Djokovic's run.

"It means a lot for me. Before the injury I was improving and my ranking was getting better. In the end of 2005, I won two tournaments, made one final. Then the beginning of 2006 was also very good. But after Barcelona [Open] I had to stop. So now I'm mentally much stronger and I feel like I can do something more here."

Having held the distinction of being the last man to defeat Rafael Nadal on clay -- in April 2005 -- before Roger Federer took over that accolade last month, people are starting to put the Russian's name in the frame among those capable of preventing a Nadal-Federer final showdown.

Andreyev refused to get carried away.

"Every player has deep fantasies of holding the trophy on center court on Sunday, but I have to go slow," he said.