Federer rediscovers his form, beats Frenchman
Averting a mounting crisis in the middle of a spectacular fourth-round match, Federer won the last two sets to reach his 36th consecutive Grand Slam quarterfinal and keep alive his hopes of a second title at Roland Garros.
When the 15th-seed Simon, roared on by chants of “Gillou,” won the third set, Federer looked to be careering toward the exit door, but the 17-time Grand Slam champion hit back with every weapon in his arsenal to set up a quarterfinal with another French hope, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
It was nerve-racking until the end, however, with Federer missing a volley when serving for the match at 5-3 to offer Simon hope of a late escape.
Federer, the 2009 French Open champion, then wasted his first match point with an anxious forehand swiped into the net, but when a second opportunity came his way Simon pushed a backhand into the tramlines.
“It was beautiful, it’s always special to play matches like that,” Federer said at courtside. “You always remember matches like this.”
The victory was the 31-year-old Federer’s 58th at the French Open, tying him for first place with Guillermo Vilas and Nicola Pietrangeli on the all-time list of matches won here.
The Swiss had to dig into his vast repertoire of strokes to subdue Simon ? a player who has troubled him before and who won the first two of their five previous meetings.
Simon began to make inroads, and when Federer stumbled and fell in the sixth game, the Frenchman’s chance came. The Swiss ended up on his hands and knees on the red dirt after snagging his toe in the surface and lost his poise. There was no obvious damage, but he was broken in the next game and Simon rammed home the advantage to level the match.
“Perhaps that bothered me a little bit, but not very much. Maybe just five minutes,” Federer said of his slip.“He seized his opportunity. He got the advantage and he made my life difficult.”