New York - Mikhail Youzhny laughed off his 17-0 losing record against Roger Federer, claiming that if his latest capitulation on Thursday had been a three-set match, he'd be celebrating a first win.
The 35-year-old Russian, a former top 10 player now languishing at 101 in the world, dropped the first set of their second round US Open clash before winning the next two.
However, hobbled by cramping, the six-time champion in New York came roaring back for a 6-1, 6-7 (3/7), 4-6, 6-4, 6-2 victory and a spot in the last 32.
"I try to find positive things in this. I say OK, he's beaten me 17 times but today it was closer. I say I beat him - in three sets," Youzhny.
"I have never won two sets against Roger in Grand Slam matches. Today was a good match but I lost so I cannot be happy."
Federer and Youzhny met as juniors at the US Open in doubles and played against each other for the first time on the main tour in Stockholm in 2000.
Youzhny won the first set of that clash but lost the match and it's been a familiar tale of woe ever since.
Before Thursday, the Russian had won just four sets to Federer's 36 and the losing streak included four losses at the Grand Slams - the 2007 Australian Open, Roland Garros in the same year and then at Wimbledon in 2011 and 2012.
"I look at things differently now. I look at the chance to again play the greatest player in the world in a great stadium," said Youzhny.
"When you are younger, it's different. I played Pete Sampras here when I was 18 in 2001. I didn't think about the arena or the fans, just that I was facing Sampras."
Youzhny admitted that the cramping on Thursday was crucial, saying it even affected his hands and fingers as well as his legs.
"I could only move left and right, not forward and back."
He called a medical time-out in the fourth set but the physio could only give him vitamin tablets as it's against the rules for the trainers to treat cramp.
"Even if I say I will die from the cramps, they will just look at me and say 'OK, bye-bye,'" he said.
Youzhny admitted that his condition was not helped by having to play his first-round match on Wednesday after rain washed out most of the programme on Tuesday.
"But I cannot change the weather," he said.
Youzhny said he was not surprised to see Federer, the reigning Australian Open and Wimbledon champion, needing two five-setters to reach the third round.
"He is just a man, he's not a god."