Fed up and disenchanted with life on tour, Guillermo Coria almost called it quits just a few weeks ago.
But a return to his favorite hunting ground at Roland Garros, where he was runner-up in 2004, has reignited his competitive fires.
"One month ago I didn't think that I would play this tournament. I didn't think that I would be here at Roland Garros," Coria told reporters after a 5-7, 6-4, 6-1, 6-4 defeat by 12th seed Tommy Robredo in the first round of the French Open.
"Today it was a major challenge for me and I took up the challenge and... I can tell you that the situation has changed. So I'm back, and I'm really eager to be on the tour.
"Tennis has given me a lot and I couldn't leave tennis this way. So that's why I didn't quit."
Had the 26-year-old followed up on his first instinct, he would have joined a long list of players who had thrown in the towel early.
But instead of following the example set by Swedish great Bjorn Borg and French Open champion Justine Henin, who shocked the sporting world by walking away from tennis in their mid 20s, Coria is staying on to complete some unfinished business.
"I've had good memories but bad memories also (at Roland Garros). I lost here. It was a bitter memory because I lost in the final here," said Coria, who served a seven-month doping ban after testing positive for nandrolone in 2001.
"I said that if I were to win a Grand Slam I would withdraw from the game. That's what I thought when I played the final a few years ago. But as I didn't win the final, I'm again here."
Rated as the third best player in the world in 2004, Coria was the overwhelming favorite to win the French Open that year.
However, his dreams were ripped up when he was felled at the final hurdle by fellow Argentine Gaston Gaudio.
Instead of building on his run to the Paris finale, Coria found himself confined to the sidelines as he became an expert on how to recuperate from back injuries, shoulder problems and a number of other ailments.
With the daily grind of keeping his body match-fit becoming more and more difficult to bear, he saw his ranking nosedive to 813 in March this year.
In two months he has jumped more than 200 places up the rankings to 604 and after giving Robredo a run for his money on Monday, he is hopeful that it will not be long before he will once again be considered a contender for the big titles.
"I'm very happy to be at Roland Garros and back here at the club...(it) feels like being at home. It's something very special," Coria said after playing his first Grand Slam event since the 2006 US Open.
"I feel great, and I hope that next year I will be at Roland Garros and hope one day that I will win the tournament."
(Agencies via China Daily May 28, 2008)