ROME?Roger Federer's French Open problems piled up on Thursday when he was dumped out of the Rome Masters by Richard Gasquet but world No. 1 Rafael Nadal shook off a fever to make the quarter-finals.
World No. 3 Federer went down 4-6, 7-6 (7/2), 7-6 (7/4) in the third round to Frenchman Gasquet, a worrying setback less than 10 days before the start of Roland Garros, the second Grand Slam of the season.
Nadal, the defending French Open champion, quickly put behind him what he described as his worst clay performance in memory on Wednesday to streak into the quarter-finals with a 6-4, 6-2 win over compatriot Feliciano Lopez.
Federer broke Gasquet in the seventh game of the first set before serving it out and when he broke again in the fifth game of the second, it looked like he would be in for a short afternoon.
But Gasquet displayed previously unseen grit and determination to fight back in the eighth game and then take the tie-break.
The decider also went to a tie-break that saw two early mini-breaks apiece before Gasquet took the initiative when Federer missed a backhand.
Leading 5-4 and with two serves to come, Gasquet held his nerve while Federer made errors off both wings to hand the match to the Frenchman.
It was only Gasquet's second victory against the record 16-time Grand Slam winner in 10 meetings, his first coming in 2005 in Monte Carlo in their first match when he was still a teenager.
Nadal played much better than in his troubled three-set victory over Italian qualifier Paolo Lorenzi on Wednesday insisting that his poor form had been due to a fever and not the pressure of having lost last week's Madrid final to Novak Djokovic.
"I had a fever last night and this morning I didn't feel perfect. Before the match I didn't know if I could go on court," he said.
"I had a practice at 11:30 for just 15 minutes to see how it went and finally I decided to go on court. It worked a little bit better than yesterday.
"It's something that is impossible to control. It's strange for me, usually I never have this kind virus or fever but it's the second time for me this year.
"I don't know if it's the tournaments, changing places, having to adapt very fast to different places.
"The last few months have been hard. I certainly didn't understand very well yesterday (Wednesday) why I felt that slow and without energy. I understand better today."
Having given up an early break, Nadal took the first set when Lopez played a sloppy service game at 4-5, a poor drop-shot into the net bringing up 0-40 and three set points to Nadal, who took the first with a rasping backhand passing shot.
Nadal then broke him twice in the second set as Lopez paid for his 30 unforced errors during the match.
French Open champion Francesca Schiavone showed her mettle as she came back from a set down to beat Daniela Hantuchova 3-6, 6-2, 7-5 in a two and a half hour marathon to reach the quarter-finals for the fourth time, but first since 2005.
Former Wimbledon champion Maria Sharapova breezed past 10th seed Shahar Peer 6-2, 6-2.
There were mixed fortunes for the two Australian women remaining in the draw as sixth seed Samantha Stosur put an end to Slovenian qualifier Polona Hercog's impressive run, winning 6-3, 6-4.
However, Jarmila Gajdosova was soundly thrashed by Chinese fourth seed Li Na, 6-1, 6-2.
Twice champion and former world No. 1 Jelena Jankovic was made to fight before overcoming Spanish qualifier Anabel Medina Garrigues 6-4, 2-6, 6-2.