Fighting Federer Rallies from the Brink to Overhaul Haas


Paris, June 2: Roger Federer flirted with the second major French Open earthquake Monday before rallying dramatically from the brink to reach the quarter-finals from two sets down for only the fifth time in his career.

The Swiss second seed, his path in Paris somewhat cleared by the weekend shock elimination of four-time champion Rafael Nadal by free-swinging Swede Robin Soderling, didn't make life easy for himself in a 6-7 (4-7), 5-7, 6-4, 6-0, 6-2 win over longtime rival Tommy Haas.

It took three hours, seven minutes with the Swiss player breaking the spell on his second match point after setting it up with a rare drop shot.

Federer fired 16 aces and 60 winners, breaking seven times. It was his second recovery from the depths in Paris, having beaten Sargis Sargsian at Roland Garros in 2001 from two sets to love down.

Germany's Haas, a one-time world number two, had lost his last seven matches to Federer dating to 2002 and had won his last set in the series at the 2006 Australian Open.

It was the second Grand Slam from the last three where Haas let a two-sets-to-love lead slip away. He was beaten in the US Open second round last year by Gilles Muller from a similar winning position and has now failed to fire from the leading position on six occasions.

By contrast, Federer also had to struggle out of another two sets to love down deficit at January's Australian Open to get past Tomas Berdych in the fourth round.

Against Haas, Federer played a perfect opening set, firing six love games but losing in the tiebreaker as the German took his chances.

While the Federer serve was magnificent, the forehand let him down badly, with two straight errors on that side handing over a two-set lead to the German veteran who missed the second half of 2008 with more of the shoulder problems which have hampered his career.

Federer began to turn the tide just in time with a break of Haas for 5-4 in the third set, helped by the German's volley error when he had an empty court to use.

The Swiss threw himself a lifeline to claim the set, then raced into dominance in the fourth to sweep it 6-0 in 21 minutes.

His spirit broken, Haas was unable to mount an attack as Federer reeled him in.

In women's play, second seed Serena Williams crushed nervous Canadian Aleksandra Wozniak 6-1, 6-2 while Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova beat Poland's Agnieszka Radwanska 6-4, 1-6, 6-1,with the winners set to meet in the last eight.

"I'm getting better every day," said Williams, "I'm just happy to still be here in my preparation, still just getting there."

The American took full advantage of her 21-year-old opponent's inexperience on the big stage.

"After I got off to such a quick start, I realised that maybe she hadn't played on centre court yet. Maybe she hadn't had the experience in big matches in Grand Slams where there is a chance for either player who won to get into the quarter-finals.


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Title: Fighting Federer Rallies from the Brink to Overhaul Haas

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