Federer survives Simon scare

  • Last Updated: June 3 2013, 6:09 BST

Roger Federer was given a huge scare by Gilles Simon before fighting back to reach the French Open quarter-finals.

Roger Federer enjoys his win against Gilles Simon.
Roger Federer enjoys his win against Gilles Simon.

The Swiss was looking to reach the last eight at a 36th consecutive Grand Slam, a record dating back to Wimbledon in 2004, and only five times before in that run had he been behind going into the fourth set.

In the end, Federer did what he has done on those other five occasions, recovering to win 6-1 4-6 2-6 6-2 6-3, but there was plenty to give hope to his next opponent, sixth seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

The 31-year-old said: "I think it's good, honestly. Now I clearly know where I stand and how well I'm playing. It gives me a lot of info.

"I'm still fairly fresh. It wasn't one of those four-and-a-half-hour battles. It was intense, but I think I did really well and never felt tired.

"For that reason, I'm looking forward to the match against Jo-Willy. Obviously it's a big challenge playing him here in Paris. He's a great friend of mine."

There was no indication of the drama to come when Federer, who was bidding for his 900th tour-level victory, won six straight games to win the first set, looking in fine fettle and even hitting a winner around the net post.

The pair met in Rome two weeks ago, when Simon won only three games, but the Frenchman had given Federer trouble in the past.

He won both their first two matches, which came in 2008, and then took the Swiss to five sets in the second round of the Australian Open in 2011.

The match turned in the middle of the second set. Federer took a tumble and, although he was not hurt, it seemed to upset the rhythm of the second seed, who rarely suffers such indignity.

Simon broke immediately to lead 4-3 and then levelled the match on his first set point when Federer fired a backhand long.

There is almost nowhere where Federer is more loved than Roland Garros, yet the crowd were overwhelming cheering for Simon.

It was to get even better for the 28-year-old, who broke again for 3-2 in the third set before winning the set with his fifth game in a row.

Federer was helping his opponent out with quite a lot of errors but Simon, who needed five sets to defeat Lleyton Hewitt and Sam Querrey, was showing what a talented player he is.

Federer was in trouble, but the 31-year-old has dug himself out of deeper holes in the past and set about turning things back in his favour.

The crowd had returned to his side now as well, perhaps having thought twice about wanting to lose their favourite so early, and Federer clenched his fist as he broke for 4-2 in the fourth.

The 2009 champion looked in complete control as he reeled off seven straight games before Simon dug in with an admirable hold for 1-3 in the decider.

It was not quite over, and the Frenchman had two chances to retrieve the break with Federer serving for the match, but his serve saved the Swiss and he wrapped up victory in two hours and 59 minutes when Simon put a backhand wide.

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