Tennis: Five-set Federer grabs 900th win to reach last eight
PARIS— Roger Federer racked up his 900th tour win and reached a 36th consecutive Grand Slam quarter-final Sunday while tearful Tommy Robredo also took the five-set route into the French Open quarter-finals.
Second seed Federer battled back to defeat French 15th seed Gilles Simon, 6-1, 4-6, 2-6, 6-2, 6-3.
Robredo, meanwhile, the forgotten man of Spanish tennis, became the first player in 86 years to come back from two sets to love down in three successive Grand Slam matches.
His breathtaking 6-7 (5/7), 3-6, 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 win over 11th seeded compatriot Nicolas Almagro put him into the last eight in Paris for the fifth time.
Federer, 31, also claimed a record-equalling 58th win at Roland Garros, but he did it the hard way, briefly staring at his earliest exit at a major since losing to Gustavo Kuerten in Paris in the third round in 2004.
Federer goes on to face French sixth seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga for a place in the semi-finals after taking his career five-set record to 22-1.
“It was a great atmosphere in which to play like this. It became difficult in the second set as Gilles turned it around,” said Federer, who had 56 unforced errors.
“I am proud of the record (of 36 quarter-finals in succession). It’s a lot of years, a lot of sacrifices and a lot of matches like this.”
There was no hint of the drama to come when the 2009 champion, playing in a 56th consecutive Grand Slam, carved out breaks in the third and fifth games to take the first set.
But once the Swiss had suffered an awkward fall in the seventh game of the second his momemtum also took a dive with 28-year-old Simon speeding through the next two sets.
However, refreshed by a break off the court to gather his thoughts and reconstruct his game, 17-time Grand Slam champion Federer levelled the tie.
The spirit seeped from Simon, who had already played two five-setters in his three previous rounds.
Federer reeled off seven straight games from 2-2 in the fourth set to take control of the decider at 3-0 and took victory on a second match point when Simon slapped a backhand wide.
Robredo, who goes on to tackle fellow Spaniard David Ferrer for a semi-final spot, is the first man since Henri Cochet at Wimbledon in 1927 to win three matches on the bounce at a Grand Slam from two sets to love down.
The 31-year-old, who was down at 471 in the world rankings this time last year after leg surgery forced him onto the sidelines, had also battled past Igor Sijsling and Gael Monfils in similar dramatic circumstances.
But the former world number five had appeared on his way out when Almagro led by two sets and 4-1 in the third.
Robredo, the 32nd seed, was also down in the fourth set at 2-4, but went on a four-game streak to level.
The decider followed the same pattern with Almagro nipping out to a 2-0 lead before Robredo, with the crowd on his side, came back for a 3-2 lead.
Almagro broke back for 3-3 but his nerve failed him in the ninth game when Robredo hit back for 5-4 and took the match when Almagro fluffed an easy volley.
Robredo collapsed to his knees on Court Suzanne Lenglen and wept while more tears flowed as he received a standing ovation.
“I was tired and in pain. I thought I had to win the first set or it would be very tough,” said Robredo.
“But I lost the first set and the pain was crazy. I couldn’t hold my racquet for a couple of games.”
Ferrer, the Spanish fourth seed and a semi-finalist in 2012, breezed past South Africa’s Kevin Anderson 6-3, 6-1, 6-1.
The 31-year-old has made the last eight without dropping a set and takes a 6-2 head-to-head lead over Robredo into their quarter-final.
Anderson, the 27th seed, was bidding to become the first South African to reach the last-eight at Roland Garros since Cliff Drysdale in 1968 but his challenge was fatally undermined by 41 unforced errors.
Tsonga swept past unseeded Serb Viktor Troicki, 6-3, 6-3, 6-3 to make the last-eight for the second successive year.
Tsonga is seen as his country’s best hope of ending a 30-year wait to crown a men’s champion at the French Open.
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