ROGER Federer remains on course to complete his set of Grand Slam titles after a superb win over Gael Monfils in the French Open quarter-finals.
The Swiss (27) saw off home favourite Monfils 7-6 (8-6) 6-2 6-4 to reach his 20th consecutive Grand Slam semi-final.
After saving a set point, Federer edged the opening tie-break and went on to dominate the 11th seed.
He will next face fifth seed Juan Martin del Potro after the Argentine beat Spain’s Tommy Robredo 6-3 6-4 6-2.
“I was very nervous before this match, yesterday and today,” said Federer, who hopes to tie Pete Sampras’s record of 14 Grand Slam titles on Sunday. “But I have a lot of experience. I know that when I step on the court, I will play well. Or very well.”
With a 22-year-old Frenchman taking on a man seeking to finally land the one major title that has so far eluded him, the crowd on Court Philippe Chatrier had split loyalties.
The first set was a tight affair but it was Monfils who went closest to taking charge by forcing two break points in both the first and 10th games.
It came down to a tie-break and Federer was pegged back from 5-3, saving a set point with a smash at 5-6, before two holds gave him a chance to clinch the opener and he converted with a forehand volley.
Before Monfils had a chance to recover he found himself a double-break down in the second as Federer found top gear, and the world number two comfortably served out the set in under half an hour.
Monfils twice asked for the doctor in the early stages of the third, apparently for a stomach ailment, but managed to fend off a potentially decisive break point in the second game.
The Frenchman did well to save another break point in game nine with a sharp backhand volley but he finally succumbed with a forehand into the net moments later, and Federer sealed victory in two hours 10 minutes.
“It was very important to win the first set,” added Federer. “Gael felt it mentally and physically. I tried to play aggressively and because of that I made a lot of errors. Perhaps I took too many risks.”
Monfils said: “I had lots of chances in the first set but I couldn’t make the most of them. I was a little disappointed by that and after it got a lot harder and he played well.
“I was totally off in the second set and this was the big disappointment because if I want to beat the very top players I have to focus more and fight.”
Federer goes on to face in-form 20-year-old Del Potro, who continued his fine run at Roland Garros with a straightforward win as he overpowered 16th seed Robredo.
The Argentine edged the opening set and, after coming back from 0-40 to win an epic fourth game of seven deuces, he broke in the following game and soon wrapped up the second.
Del Potro’s extra weight of shot took its toll in the third set and he broke twice, converting his fifth match point in a nervous final game to secure a first Grand Slam semi-final appearance.
“I was very nervous all along the match and I never managed to really get in the match because my legs were really tense,” said the the 20-year-old Del Potro, the youngest man left in the draw.
The Argentine accepted he would face a huge task to get past Federer and reach the final.
“It’s going to be very difficult,” said Del Potro. “We all know how he plays, and we all know what he wants to achieve here now that Rafa is no longer here.
“We all feel the pressure of the fans, everybody wants Roger to win this tournament but when I play Roger, I’ll have to play my game. Otherwise I’ll never achieve anything”. – BBC.