MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Some players methodically prepare before their first match of a Grand Slam tournament, spending hours scouting their opponents, practicing and stretching, pumping themselves up.
Not Stephane Robert. He had all of 10 minutes to get ready to play Aljaz Bedene in the first round of the Australian Open this week.
The 33-year-old journeyman lost in the last round of the qualifying tournament, so his only hope of reaching the main draw was as a "lucky loser" — a replacement for another player who drops out at the last minute.
Robert got his ticket in when No. 21-seeded Philipp Kohlschreiber withdrew due to injury on Tuesday — and he's had what is probably the luckiest week of his life.
Not only did the Frenchman manage to beat Bedene, he made it all the way to the fourth round on Saturday with a 6-0, 7-6 (2), 6-4 victory over fellow lucky loser Martin Klizan of Slovakia — the first time a lucky loser has advanced this far at the tournament.
"I was in a bit of trouble before the (first) match because I didn't know that I was supposed to play," Robert said.
"(The referee) told me, 'OK, you're ready to play? Court 7. Go.' I see my opponent, I say, 'OK, see you on court.' And we went and played," he said to laughter in his first appearance in the main interview room at Melbourne Park.
The No. 119-ranked Robert has won only 16 ATP Tour-level matches, spending much of his career toiling on the lower-tier Challenger and Futures circuits.