After two blowout matches, both Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic dropped sets on Friday at the French Open. The two favorites from the bottom half still advanced comfortably into the fourth round.
Playing concurrently, Federer was first to finish off Dmitry Tursunov 7-5, 6-7(7), 6-2, 6-4 in 3:07 to reach his 12th French Open fourth round.
“At the start of my career, clay was not my favourite surface,” said Federer. “I got my best results in indoor courts or hard courts, so people thought at that time that I was only a fast-court player. But that’s not the case, so I’m very happy with this record, and I’m enjoying it.”
Tursunov, who need treatment for a second set groin injury, hung tough and pushed Federer throughout the match.
“Good for him that he was able to figure out what bothers me and kind of build his game plan around that,” the Russian said. “He’s a tough player to play against when you’re healthy, so definitely makes thing a little bit tougher.”
The Swiss now takes aim Sunday at the hot-handed Ernests Gulbis who won his seventh straight match defeating Radek Stepanek.
“Clearly he has to be confident after winning a tournament last week and now backing it up again here this week and cruising through, really,” said Federer of Gulbis. “I’m aware of the challenge ahead of me, and difficult match I think because I have had some tough matches with him in the past.”
Djokovic wrapped up Marin Cilic shortly after Federer. The Serb who is seeking a career Slam this week also needed four sets to put away Marin Cilic 6-3, 6-2, 6-7(2), 6-4. It’s the ninth straight win for Djokovic over the Croat, but this was probably the toughest.
“Physically I had to work very hard, because he was very aggressive,” said Djokovic. “It wasn’t easy, because once you start being passive, you lose kind of the confidence to step in. That’s what happened maybe in the end of the third and little bit of the fourth.
“In important moments I held my nerves and I’m very happy that I went through.”
Djokovic now has a rematch with Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. The Frenchmen won his third straight set match of the event.
Other winners were John Isner who never dropped serve against Tommy Robredo in a four set win to reach his first French Open fourth round. Tomas Berdych also was a winner.
And in a late match, Milos Raonic continued his strong clay campaign knocking out French favorite Gilles Simon in 7-5 in the fifth set.
In the women’s field, Ajla Tomljanovic continued the wave of new stars beating No. 3 seed Agnieszka Radwanska 6-4, 6-4. Radwanska’s exit means no Top 3 seeds made the final 16 at a Slam for the first time in the Open Era.
“After seeing the two first seeds go out, (I) feel like I can do this too. I grew up with these girls that are beating them… Obviously, you respect everyone, but you don’t fear anyone,” Tomljanovic said. “This year I’ve been in a few situations where I was up and didn’t execute so I wanted to make it right this time.”
Maria Sharapova notched another double bagel, she’ll now take on former finalist Sam Stosur on Sunday. And Genie Bouchard continued her hot run as did Serena-conqueror Garbine Muguruza.
“I believe this is one of her favorite surfaces to play on and a lot of her successes come on clay,” Sharapova said of Stosur. “Despite my record against her and my victory a few weeks ago, this is a new match. I’m sure she will be ready for the match against me, and so will I. I look forward to that challenge. She has a great serve, she uses the court extremely well, moves well on it. It’s a good matchup.”
On tomorrow, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray return as does Richard Gasquet who takes on Fernando Verdasco. In the big match, the zany duo of Gael Monfils and Fabio Fognini clash.
“Play against him, I mean, it’s difficult, especially here in Paris, because he’s always play good,” said the Italian who leads Monfils 3-2. “Sometimes in the court I lost my mind, but that’s part of our sport. The good part of our sport, I think.”
For the women, Sloane Stephens, Simona Halep, Ana Ivanovic and former champion Svetlana Kuznetsova are in action.
SATURDAY FRENCH OPEN SCHEDULE
Court Philippe Chatrier 11:00 AM Start
Petra Kvitova (CZE) vs. Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS)
Rafael Nadal (ESP) vs. Leonardo Mayer (ARG)
Andrea Petkovic (GER) vs. Kristina Mladenovic (FRA)
Richard Gasquet (FRA) vs. Fernando Verdasco (ESP)
Court Suzanne Lenglen 11:00 AM Start
Sloane Stephens (USA) vs. Ekaterina Makarova (RUS)
Lucie Safarova (CZE) vs. Ana Ivanovic (SRB)
Gael Monfils (FRA) vs. Fabio Fognini (ITA)
Philipp Kohlschreiber (GER) vs. Andy Murray (GBR)
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