Djokovic and Federer survive scares
Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer are each one win away from a mouth-watering French Open semi-final rematch after surviving hairy fourth-round rides at Roland Garros.
On a crazy and gloomy day in Paris, Djokovic and Federer both stared down the barrel before squeezing into the quarter-finals with desperate recovery missions.
Djokovic’s quest for a non-calendar year grand slam almost came to a messy end when the Serb went down two sets to love against Italian Andreas Seppi.
But the world No.1 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 day as women’s world No.1 Victoria Azarenka.
“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.
“He was the better player for the first two sets and I was fortunate to come through.
“But even at two sets down, I still believed I could do it and that’s about the only positive I can take. It was one of those days when nothing worked.”
Djokovic’s four-hour, 18-minute win booked him a clash on Tuesday with French fifth seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who edged Swiss 18th seed Stanislas Wawrinka 6-4 7-6 (8-6) 3-6 3-6 6-4 in another five-set cliffhanger.
Federer wasn’t in quite as deep a hole as Djokovic, but came close before the remarkable Swiss reached a record-extending 32nd consecutive grand slam quarter-final with a 5-7 7-5 6-2 6-4 victory over Belgian qualifier David Goffin.
The 16-times grand slam was two points away from falling two sets behind against the baby-faced Goffin, the world No.109 who grew up idolising Federer, with posters of the Swiss superstar on his wall.
“I didn’t know much about Goffin beforehand but I know him a lot better now,” said Federer, who Juan Martin del Potro on Tuesday for a semi-final berth after the ninth-seeded Argentine ousted Czech seventh seed Tomas Berdych 7-6 (8-6) 1-6 6-3 7-5.
Federer snapped Djokovic’s 41-match winning streak to start 2011 in last year’s semi-finals in Paris.
But for a couple of hours on Sunday there appeared every chance that both tennis titans, plus Azarenka, would crash out in what would have been the biggest day of upsets in more than a hundred years of grand slams.
With Azarenka already eliminated, Djokovic stood two games away from defeat on Court Philippe Chatrier as Federer trailed by a set and 4-5 on Court Suzanne Lenglen.
Two hours later and order was restored, with Federer denying the gallant and entertaining Goffin and Djokovic’s grand slam tilt still intact.
The 109th-ranked Goffin, a 67kg whippet punching way above his weight, had been striving to become the first lucky loser to make the quarter-finals of a major after faltering in the qualifying event.
“I have no regrets, I gave it all I could,” Goffin said. “It was a very nice match.”
Spaniards David Ferrer and Nicolas Almagro are also through to the quarter-finals.
Sixth seed Ferrer thumped countryman Marcel Granollers 6-3 6-2 6-0 on Monday, while 12th seed Almagro outclassed Serbian eighth seed Janko Tipsarevic 6-4 6-4 6-4.© AAP 2013
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