Federer, Djokovic into last eight in Paris
Roger Federer reached his 32nd consecutive grand slam quarter-final and world No.1 Novak Djokovic survived an almighty scare on a crazy day at the French Open.
Federer overcame an unexpected challenge from “lucky loser” David Goffin to move into the last eight with a 5-7 7-5 6-2 6-4 victory over the young Belgian.
The 16-times grand slam champion will play either Czech seventh seed Tomas Berdych or ninth-seeded Argentine Juan Martin del Potro on Tuesday for a semi-final berth.
Djokovic’s quest for a non-calendar-year grand slam almost came to an abrupt halt when the Serb went down two sets to love against Italian Andreas Seppi.
But Djokovic rallied for an epic 4-6 6-7 (5-7) 6-3 7-5 6-3 triumph over the 21st seed to avoid bombing out on the same gloomy day in Paris as women’s world No.1 Victoria Azarenka.
Azarenka slumped to a shock 6-2 7-6 (7-4) fourth-round loss to Slovakian 15th seed Dominika Cibulkova in a major boost to Samantha Stosur’s title hopes.
Australia’s 2010 runner-up plays unseeded American teenager Sloane Stephens later on Sunday, with the winner to face Cibulkova in the quarter-finals – instead of Azarenka.
Stosur has lost all six career encounters with Azarenka, never even taking a set off the Belarusian.
But while Azarenka is out, men’s top seed Djokovic lives to fight another day after his four-and-a-quarter-hour comeback win.
“I played very badly, but I won thanks to my fighting spirit,” said Djokovic, bidding to become just the third man to hold all four majors at the same time – and first since Rod Laver in 1969.
The Serb will meet either French fifth seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga or Swiss Stanislas Wawrinka in Tuesday’s quarter-finals.
But for a couple of hours on Sunday there appeared every chance that both top seeds plus Federer would crash out in what would have been the biggest day of upsets in more than a hundred years of grand slam tennis.
With Azarenka already eliminated, Djokovic stood two games away from defeat on Court Philippe Chatrier as Federer trailed by a set and 5-5 on Court Suzanne Lenglen.
Two hours later and order was restored, with Federer denying the gallant and entertaining Goffin a place in tennis history and Djokovic’s grand slam tilt still intact.
The 109th-ranked Goffin, a 67kg lightweight who grew up idolising Federer, had been striving to become the first lucky loser to make the quarter-finals of a major after faltering in the qualifying event.
Azarenka was upset with her performance against Cibulkova, who reached the semi-finals at Roland Garros in 2009 and had pushed Azarenka to a third set in their five previous matches but hadn’t beaten her since 2008 at Amelia Island – the last time they met on clay.
“I’m going to kill myself,” the Belarusian said when asked what she could do to recover from her demoralising departure.
Stosur, the reigning US Open champion, is now the only player in the top half of the draw to have made a grand slam final.
The other quarter-final in Stosur’s top section has already been decided, with Italian 21st seed Sara Errani to take on German 10th seed Angelique Kerber.
Errani defeated Russia’s 2009 Roland Garros champion Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-0 7-5 in her fourth-round match, while Kerber ousted Croatian Petra Martic 6-3 7-5.
Errani has been the form player on clay this year, winning tournaments in Acapulco, Barcelona and Budapest. She also reached the Australian Open quarter-finals on hard courts.© AAP 2013
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