It was an epic battle of the wounded that only one Frenchman could win.
The victor, No. 14-seeded Gilles Simon, hobbled off the court well after midnight. He needed three or four hours of massage and other treatment - he doesn't quite remember. He finally crawled into bed at 5 a.m. Sunday.
Beating Gael Monfils, a friend who is ranked 86th, made him neither happy nor sad, he said in a news conference held much later Sunday.
Toward the end of the match, he said, his pain was so intense that he didn't feel like he was on a tennis court but in a dream. The final score was 6-4, 6-4, 4-6, 1-6, 8-6.
Some in the Twitter-sphere called it ''Les Miserables,'' although the nearly five-hour tennis match lasted considerably longer than the Hollywood or Broadway versions.
France's sports daily, l'Equipe, described it Sunday as ''Dante-esque'' - an apt analogy because the next circle for Simon is the fourth round at the Australian Open where he faces a very well-rested and intensely motivated ...