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Federer Saves 2 M.P., Fights From Two Sets Down To Defeat Monfils

New York, U.S.A.

Federer© Getty ImagesRoger Federer celebrates his comeback win over Gael Monfils.

Roger Federer fought back from a two-sets deficit for the ninth time in his career, saving two match points in the fourth set, before overcoming Gael Monfils 4-6, 3-6, 6-4, 7-5, 6-2 in their quarter-final match at the US Open.

“I still thought the finish line was far for Gael. I knew I could play better tennis. I got off to a good start, so I was actually feeling alright, but then when I was down two match points, that’s when I wasn’t feeling so great anymore,” he said with a laugh in an on-court interview with Brad Gilbert. “I thought, 'This is it. This is last point, man. Just go down fighting, don’t miss an easy shot and let him have it. It’s fine.'

“But I served well and stayed in the match and somehow turned it around. I felt great in the fifth, though. I was really starting to play better and better as the match went on, and that’s a great feeling.”

The five-time US Open champion advances to the semi-finals for a ninth time at Flushing Meadows, and for the first time since 2011. He will next face Croatian Marin Cilic, who advanced earlier Thursday with a straight-sets win over Tomas Berdych.

Monfils overcame a shaky first service game as he saved two break points against the No. 2 seed. Watched by the likes of Lindsey Vonn, Gwen Stefani, Thierry Henry, Hugh Jackman and Anna Wintour, he took the early lead at 4-2 on his fourth break point chance, and broke Federer’s serve for a second time to open the second set.

In the ensuing game, the 20th-seeded Frenchman twisted his right ankle just prior to raising his arm to make a successful Hawkeye Challenge. He held serve and carried on, breaking Federer again to close out the second set.

The 33-year-old Swiss finally broke to open the third set, and after losing serve in the fourth game, recovered the lead in the next game with aggressive play at the net. He became the first player to force a set off Monfils at the 2014 US Open.

A rejuvenated Federer roared as he went up 2-1 in the fourth set, but was unable to sustain the momentum. Monfils broke back and overcame a break point in the next game, when Federer overhit a forehand. A pair of unforced errors from the Swiss’s racquet brought up double match point for Monfils at 5-4, but Federer reeled off four straight points to bring the crowd to its feet.

When asked what went through him mind on the two match points, Monfils said, “I was saying to myself, ‘Keep it simple and try to make him play them.’ Because I knew that he would force it, he would put the first ball in and then come to the net very quick. [I needed to] relax and just lean a bit more on my forehand return and try to make it.”

Federer, MonfilsMonfils double-faulted twice to gift Federer a chance to serve out the set, and could offer little resistance as the World No. 3 seized control. After battling for two hours and 53 minutes through the first four sets, Federer needed just 27 minutes to clinch the decisive set as he limited Monfils to just 11 points total, picking up his 25th win in 26 night matches on Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Federer, who won 53 of 74 points at the net, improved to an 8-2 record against Monfils, including a three-sets victory last month at the Western & Southern Open. He leads his next opponent, Cilic, 5-0 in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series.

“I’m looking forward to playing Marin,” he said. “He’s a great guy. We had a tough, tough match in Toronto. I think I needed nine match points to close him out and beat him at midnight, 6-4 in the third, so we know what to expect.” 

Federer last rallied from a two-sets deficit in 2012 at Wimbledon, where he overcame Frenchman Julien Benneteau in the third round en route to his seventh title at the All England Club.

He is looking to win his 18th Grand Slam title this week, and could move to No. 1 in the Emirates ATP Race To London should he triumph and Kei Nishikori beat Novak Djokovic in the semi-finals.

Monfils had been attempting to reach the US Open semi-finals for a first time. He had advanced to his lone Grand Slam semi-final in 2008 at Roland Garros.

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