PARIS, June 4 (UPI) -- For the third time in five matches at the French Open, Albert Costa of Spain rallied back Wednesday to advance to the men's semifinals.
Costa overcame a two-set deficit, victimizing fellow Spaniard Tommy Robredo in the process, 2-6, 3-6, 6-4, 7-5, 6-2, in the quarterfinals.
Costa will meet countryman Juan Carlos Ferrero in the semifinals Friday in a rematch of last year's final. Ferrero beat Fernando Gonzalez of Chile, 6-1, 3-6, 6-1, 5-7, 6-4 in another five-set thriller.
The third-seeded Ferrero became just the fifth man to reach four consecutive French Open semifinals, joining Bjorn Borg (1978-81), Mats Wilander (1982-85), Ivan Lendl (1984-87), and Jim Courier (1991-94).
Ferrero had dropped both of his career encounters with Gonzalez before Wednesday. Even on the junior circuit, Ferrero could not solve Gonzalez, who also took their meeting in the 1998 French Open boys final.
"I lost easy to him at the U.S. Open and in Basel in three sets," Ferrero said. "He hits the ball so hard and I couldn't control it, but I think this victory gave me confidence. I have to learn that when the difficult points come, I have to come down a bit mentally."
"Physically, I think we are going to be a bit tired," Ferrero said of the semifinal showdown. "But the difference between this year and last year is that my ankle is good."
The Costa-Robredo matchup assured a Spaniard of reaching the French semifinals for a fourth consecutive year, the longest such streak for Spain in the Open Era.
In his 10-year career, Costa had never won a match after dropping the first two sets before this tournament.
Nicolas Escude of France is the only player to rally from two sets down three times in a Grand Slam tournament, achieving that in the 1998 French Open. Costa is the first to win four five-set matches in a Grand Slam event.
"I don't know if I'm making history, but I promise that this (losing the first two sets) is not the strategy," Costa said. "I just realize that I am fighting all the time and I go two sets down and I still try to win the match. I'd love to win in three sets, but things are becoming very complicated."
It appeared Robredo was on the road to knocking off a Grand Slam champion for the third match in a row after beating top-ranked Lleyton Hewitt of Australia in the third round and three-time winner Gustavo Kuerten of Brazil in the fourth round.
In the fifth set, as the match approached the three-hour mark, Robredo was clearly the more fatigued player. He stalled during changeovers, and failed to chase down shots he reached earlier.
Costa, the men's defending champion, took the lead for the first time at 3-2 in the fifth set when Robredo doubled faulted and won the final five games. After a backhand volley winner on match point, Costa fell on his back and screamed in celebration.
Robredo's frustration showed during the fifth game of the decisive set when he threw his racket to the backstop after Costa lobbed a winner over his head.
"What he did today, it's difficult," said the 21-year-old Robredo. "I played great the first two sets and it was a lot of difference between him and me. I never was expecting the change. He made a great comeback. I think I lost it in the best possible way, in five sets and playing very good tennis, so I am satisfied."
Costa, 27, spent a combined 11 hours, 56 minutes on the court in the opening three rounds before beating Arnaud Clement of France in straight sets on Monday. Wednesday's match lasted three hours, 29 minutes, and Costa has played 23 sets totaling 18 hours, 32 minutes.
He is attempting to become the seventh man to successfully defend his title. Kuerten was the last player to accomplish the feat in 2001.
This marked the first time one country has had at least four players reach the last eight at the French Open since Australia had five in the 1969 quarterfinals. Spain's Carlos Moya was the fourth, but he lost his quarterfinal to Dutchman Martin Verkerk on Tuesday.