Monday, June 1, 2009
WRAPUP 1-Tennis-Open-Federer avoids following Nadal out of Paris
* Federer roars back from two sets down
* Serena sets up Kuznetsova showdown
* Fifth seed Jankovic beaten by Romanian teenager
By Pritha Sarkar
PARIS, June 1 - Roger Federer roared and 15,000
fans hollered as the Swiss clung on by his fingertips to his
French Open dreams on Monday and avoided joining Rafael Nadal on
the Roland Garros scrapheap.
With the claycourt major still reeling from the shock exit
of four-times champion Rafael Nadal just 24 hours earlier,
Federer was on the brink of the same fate before finding the
strength to bury German Tommy Haas 6-7 5-7 6-4 6-0 6-2.
Fifth seed Jelena Jankovic completed a miserable three days
for the Serbs when she followed compatriots Novak Djokovic and
2008 champion Ana Ivanovic out with a 3-6 6-0 9-7 defeat by
little known Romanian teenager Sorana Cirstea.
But an out-of-form Jankovic's loss barely caused a stir
after Federer's great escape on Centre Court.
When Haas swiped a service return wide after three hours and
seven minutes of nerve-shredding action, Federer leapt high in
the air and let out an almighty roar to mark the moment he had
booked a quarter-final date against either American sixth seed
Andy Roddick or Frenchman Gael Monfils.
Only 70 minutes earlier, it had looked like the Swiss would
suffer his earliest grand slam loss since 2004 when he came
within five points of defeat.
At two sets and 3-4 down facing a break point, Federer
conjured up a screaming forehand winner to bring the scores back
to deuce. Federer earned his get-out-of-jail-free card two
points later when Haas dragged a forehand long.
"When I hit that forehand to save a break point at 3-4 in
the third, I had the feeling it could be a turning point in the
match," said Federer, who has reached the semi-finals or better
in the last 19 grand slam events.
"I thought almost that it was my first good shot of the
match. I knew the significance of that shot.
"That saved me on that day and I was able to turn around the
whole match. It's a great feeling, because I was in quite some
danger right there."
From then on, Federer won eight successive games and his
charge towards a record-equalling 14th grand slam title was safe
-- at least for another two days.
"When you're that close to winning, it hurts," said Haas.
"There's no secret to why he's been there the last five
years and so you just got to tip your hat and say, 'That's why
he's Roger Federer'."
Federer will be hoping to avoid any further anxious moments
as he is favourite to win an elusive Paris title after the
departures of Nadal and in-form Serbian fourth seed Djokovic.
But after having to come back from two sets down for only
the fifth time in his career, Federer did not want to buy into
the hype that it was his year to win the title.
"People make it sound so simple ... (but) you come out and
you always have guys going after you, like Haas today," said
Nadal's compatriot Tommy Robredo made sure there was at
least some Spanish interest left in the draw when he beat
Djokovic's conqueror Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-4 5-7 7-6 6-2.
But while the rest of Roland Garros could not stop talking
about Nadal's demise, there was one exception.
"I don't want to talk about Rafa. I'm here to talk about
myself. I'm ready, I'm playing good and I'm in the
quarter-finals. And I'm fit," said Robredo, who will meet Juan
Martin del Potro.
The Argentine fifth seed made it through to the
quarter-finals for the first time with a 6-1 6-7 6-1 6-4 win
over French ninth seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
For once, Serena Williams did not provide any of the drama.
The second seed, who created a commotion in the previous
round after labelling her opponent a "cheat" following a
disputed point, was the model of decorum in a 6-1 6-2 thrashing
of Canadian 24th seed Aleksandra Wozniak.
The 2002 champion, at 27 the oldest woman left in the draw,
will face seventh seed Svetlana Kuznetsova for a place in the
last four after the Russian survived her stiffest test yet in a
6-4 1-6 6-1 win over Pole Agnieszka Radwanska.
(Editing by Sonia Oxley; To query or comment on this story