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Monfils Riding A Wave Into Fourth Round

Paris, France

Monfils© Getty ImagesGael Monfils edged Fabio Fognini in five sets.

Gael Monfils had the Philippe Chatrier Court crowd on the edge of their seats Saturday as he edged Fabio Fognini 5-7, 6-2, 6-4, 0-6, 6-2 to reach the fourth round at Roland Garros for the fifth time.

The Frenchman looked spent as he won just six points in the fourth set, but found a second wind for the deciding set as he opened up a 3-0 lead. Buoyed by the vociferous home support, Monfils held on to seal the dramatic victory in three hours and 24 minutes.

"When I arrived in the fourth, he broke me straight away," said Monfils. "I was starting to struggle a little bit, not cramping, but I felt really tired. I think all the fatigue coming up.

"The crowd is always the difference. Today it was again amazing. I think it is never easy to drop a set. Trying to come back for the fifth is never easy, and definitely the crowd helped me a lot.

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"For me it's not about ups and downs. It's more about saving my *@!$ every day! To be honest, I just came here without preparation. So, I'm surviving."

The 27-year-old Monfils levelled his FedEx ATP Head2Head series with Fognini at 3-3 as he clinched the 297th win of his career. The Paris native reached his only Grand Slam semi-final at home in 2008, losing to Roger Federer in four sets, and also reached the quarter-finals here in 2009 and 2011, falling to Federer on both occasions.

Monfils came into Roland Garros with very little match practice under his belt, having been sidelined since the start of the European clay-court swing after twisting his ankle in Bucharest. Earlier in the season he won his fifth ATP World Tour title in Montpellier (d. Gasquet) and finished runner-up in Doha (l. to Nadal).

For a place in the quarter-finals, Monfils will face Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, who also needed five sets to battle past Donald Young 6-2, 6-4, 2-6, 6-7(4), 6-4 in three hours and 47 minutes. The 30-year-old Garcia-Lopez is through to the fourth round of a major for the first time, having upset Australian Open champion Stan Wawrinka in the first round.

Garcia-Lopez trails Monfils 2-3 in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series, but won the pair’s most recent contest in Miami earlier this year.

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