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Federer Fight Back Stuns Del Potro

Paris, France

Federer© AFP/Getty ImagesRoger Federer won the 2009 Roland Garros title over Robin Soderling.

Third seed and 2009 champion Roger Federer fought back from two sets to love down for the seventh time in his career on Tuesday with a 3-6, 6-7(4), 6-2, 6-0, 6-3 quarter-final win over ninth seed Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina at Roland Garros.

Federer reached his 31st Grand Slam championship semi-final, to equal Jimmy Connors' record for the most major semi-final appearances, with victory in three hours and 14 minutes. He next will attempt to repeat his 2011 Roland Garros semi-final win over top seed Novak Djokovic. The Serb also rallied from behind Tuesday to beat Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in five sets to keep alive his hopes of winning a fourth straight major championship.

"I thought it was very good conditions for him," said Federer. "I knew it was going to be tough anyway. I have been struggling to find my rhythm. I did feel it in the first set, even though he was up two sets. I was finding a way back and starting to feel better. [I was] just trying to figure out how to play a guy who returns from so far back on a slow court. Do you try to serve through him? Which I tried; [it] didn't work. Or do I try and move it around a bit? And that worked a bit better, but it was really in the mix up that I found success.

"[The] second set was a tough set for me to lose, but he played a really good breaker and got the better of me. But I was happy that the first two sets took some time, because I did favour myself once the match got longer. I'm very happy with the way I fought and started in the third set, fourth set, and even in the fifth set, where, obviously, it was the toughest, because that was his last chance and his resistance maybe was the strongest there."

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Del Potro broke serve four times in the first two sets, when he lost just eight points on his first serve. But a knee injury that had bothered del Potro during the tournament flared up and required treatment. When del Potro's first serve percentage began to drop, Federer seized control of the match. He lost just eight points in the 23-minute fourth set and swept through the decider for his 237th match win at a major championship.

It was Federer's third comeback from two sets to love down at Roland Garros. He also did so against Sargis Sargsian in 2001 and Tommy Haas in 2009, when he went on to beat del Potro in five sets en route to completing a career Grand Slam with his first - and, to date, only - Roland Garros title. The 30-year-old Swiss also improved to 19-16 in matches decided in a fifth set. Federer now leads del Potro 8-2 in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series.

Del Potro, who reached the 2009 semi-finals, had his serve broken eight times. He committed 43 unforced errors - as many as Federer - but won just 35 per cent of his return points. Del Potro dropped to a 37-9 record on the season, which includes ATP World Tour titles at the Open 13 in Marseille (d. Llodra) and the Estoril Open (d. Gasquet).

"I played a great match, even [in] the third and fourth sets," said del Potro. "He started to play much better than in the beginning of the match.

"I didn't serve well, and this is why I lost [the] intensity in my game. I had opportunities. I missed them. When he had opportunities he won, and that made the difference. I didn't have any chance to win until the first game in the fifth set when I had [one] break point [opportunity].

"[It] was a great tournament for me. I'm very happy I made it to this level. When I win sets, when I win games against [the] big players, against those who have a better ranking than my own, there's always something to learn. There are positives and negatives, and I have to work on the negative aspects."

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