(June 2, 2013) Roger Federer was pushed to five sets on Sunday and had to recover from a fall on the clay, as well as a loss of focus in rallying to defeat Frenchman Gilles Simon, 6-1, 4-6, 2-6, 6-2, 6-3 in the fourth round of the French Open.
“I didn’t hurt myself or anything,” said the Swiss about his fall at 3-2 in the second set in which he appeared to have twisted his ankle while stretching for a backhand. “But maybe I did lose, you know, that touch of confidence for a little bit, and then I was out of the match there for a bit.
“But, I mean, I think more credit to him, because I wasn’t bothered by the fall in any way, actually. If anything, mentally, or maybe gave him a mental boost. Who knows what it was, you know.
“So maybe it was little things like that, but, yes, it was ‑‑ first, it was up to him to figure things out after the first set, and then the beginning of the second was tough for him, as well.”
“And then, well, then he came in on the next two, and then it was up to me again to figure things out. And I’m happy I found a way and took the right decisions and was able to sort of tidy up my play a little bit, not spray that many unforced errors, even though I don’t think it was that bad. You’re always going to hit some against Gilles because he does a great job retrieving.
“But, yeah, overall I’m very happy. Stayed calm under pressure, and it’s always fun being part of matches like this.”
In the middle of the match, Simon won 10 of 13 games to take a two sets to one lead.
“When I was beating him, I got involved in the rhythm. And I played as quickly as I could so he couldn’t have any rhythm,“ Simon said.
“I saw him fall, but this coincided with the time things were improving for me, because I was good on that particular rally. And, you know, I had to really push things to make him fall. But I wasn’t waiting to fall to turn things around.
“And then I don’t know whether it had a serious impact on his game. All I know is that at that point in the match I was releasing my shots, and I found a simpler pattern with my serve. I attacked with my serve. And that proved fruitful.”
Federer put together a run of his own to recover from a two sets to on deficit. The No. 2 seed and 17-time major winner captured 12 of the last 15 games to win the match.
The victory gave the second seed Federer his 36th consecutive quarterfinal at a major tennis event as well as his 900 career victory on the ATP World Tour. Federer is fourth in victories behind Jimmy Connors (1156), Ivan Lendl (1068) and Guillermo Vilas (940).
“It’s been an amazing run, and I’m happy I’m still on it,” Federer said.
“The number is unbelievable. I probably would have been happy with one at one point in my career, when I was younger and eventually you raise the bar and say, Okay, hopefully I can reach my first semifinals, like in 2003 at Wimbledon. I went on to win the tournament, and the rest we know.”
It was also Federer’s 58th win in his French Open career, equaling the record shared by Guillermo Vilas and Nicola Pietrangeli.
“I knew 900 was on the line, Federer commented. “I didn’t know about the Vilas one, but I’m just happy I have been able to win a lot of matches throughout my career, really. Give myself an opportunity over and over again. I love this game.”
Federer will play another Frenchman, Jo-Wilfred Tsonga in the quarterfinals.
“I’m looking forward to the match against Jo‑Willy,” Federer said. “I mean, obviously it’s a big challenge playing him here in Paris. He’s a great friend of mine. We had a great tour together in South America on a couple of the events, and we know each other well. I think we’re both looking forward to this match.”