(September 4, 2014) No. 2 seed Roger Federer saved two match points while coming back from two-sets to love down to defeat 20th seed Gael Monfils 4-6, 3-6, 6-4, 7-5, 6-2 on Thursday night and reach the US Open semifinals for the first time in three years.
For the first two sets, the 33-year-old veteran had no answer to a focused Monfils hard-hitting Frenchman, nor did he have an answer for dealing with the windy conditions in Arthur Ashe Stadium.
Federer began to dig out of a two sets down hols in the third set. The five-time US Open winner survived two match points when he was down 5-4 in the fourth set. He won five games in a row to take the fourth set and gain majors momentum in the fifth set where Monfils’ level of play took a precipitous drop.
“Well, then it was tough, because I think then my serve was not good, so it let me a bit down again at 5-All,” Monfils said. “I think maybe I hit a double fault. I think I had a point for 6-5 and could not really quite use my serve. I think the side I was was tougher because it was against the wind, so it was a bit tougher. Then rush me with his long return, so it was very tough. But then he play good. He played good. He had the set. Then physically I had a drop, five minutes. But maybe come from mentally also, because I thought that I could have play better this fourth set. For five minutes I think I had — I was a little bit, yeah, tired and mentally also tired. So then it came quick. I think then he start to be very offensive. So then it was very tough to handle it.”
Federer was asked about how he survived his match to come back and win.
“Well, it was one of those moments where you got the back against the wall and hope to get a bit lucky and you hope to play exactly the right shots that you need or that he completely just messes it up,” Federer said. Either way works as long as you get out of it. But clearly it’s not a great feeling, because you feel it’s not in your control anymore really. So I’m very, very happy to have found a way tonight.”
“I was like saying to myself, Keep it simple, you know, and try to make him play them,” Monfils discussing having two match points. “Because I knew that he will force it, like he will put the first ball in and then for sure come to the net very quick. So it was more like, you know, I be relax and just lean a bit more on my forehand return and try to make it. And then we just played those two points, and, you know, well done.”
“It’s just unbelievable to win matches like this at slams,” Federer continued. “You know, I have won other big ones in other places. But over best of five, saving match points against Gaël in an atmosphere that it was out here tonight, it’s definitely very special. I’m. Not sure I have ever saved match point before in a slam. If that hasn’t happened, I’m unbelievably happy that it was today, because I knew I could play better after the first couple of sets. I believed I could turn it around from the get-go when the third set started, and I’m so happy the crowd got into it. The rallies were incredible at times, and my game really picked up. I served great in the fifth when it mattered, and just overall an enjoyable match also to play, because it had all the ups and downs similar to the Wimbledon final.”
This was the ninth time Federer has won a match after dropping the opening two sets down, eight of them at majors.
The victory will move Federer ahead of Rafael Nadal for the No. 2 spot in te ATP race.
Federer will take on Marin Cilic in his semifinal on Saturday afternoon.