PARIS // Roger Federer said he will not feel much impact from Rafael Nadal's loss at the French Open until Sunday - if then - the day they were potentially to have met in the final. Yet Federer acknowledged the elimination of the four-time defending champion has changed the dynamics of the tournament. "For a lot of players," Federer said, "I think it must be quite a big opportunity, and their heads must be spinning right now."
Despite playing down Nadal's exit, it is a huge flip for Federer knowing the biggest obstacle of claiming the only grand slam missing from his trophy cabinet is now out of the way. The world No 2 nearly squandered his own chances in the fourth round on Monday night though. He was five points from a straight-sets defeat before rallying past Tommy Haas 6-7 (4), 5-7, 6-4, 6-0, 6-2. Federer advanced to the quarter-finals on Wednesday, where he will face eleventh-seed Gael Monfils.
The Frenchman beat sixth-seeded Andy Roddick 6-4, 6-2, 6-3 as darkness fell over Roland Garros. Roddick began to complain in the second set that he had trouble seeing the ball in the fading light, but tournament officials denied his pleas for an overnight suspension of play. Roddick missed several easy shots at the net, including a volley on match point to give Monfils the victory. In his postmatch news conference, Roddick downplayed his frustration. "We were dealing with the same conditions," he said.
"Regardless of what my opinion is on the situation, it's not my decision to make. He handled the conditions better than I did." The loss brought a sour end to Roddick's best showing in the Paris showpiece, and left Serena Williams as the lone American remaining in singles competition. She reached the final eight by beating Aleksandra Wozniak 6-1, 6-2. The path to the men's title became less daunting when Nadal was upset Sunday by Robin Soderling. The aftershock could most affect Federer, who has been beaten by Nadal at Roland Garros four years in a row.
"It definitely changes it up if I were to make the final," Federer said. "But we're not there yet, so honestly it hasn't changed a whole lot for me." When asked if he was relieved by the Spaniard's defeat, Federer smiled. "He didn't retire, right?" Federer said. "It just shows that we're all human. We all lose at some stage. ... I speak firsthand, you know, knowing what it takes to dominate." Federer's total of 13 Grand Slam titles is one shy of Pete Sampras' record, but the Swiss has battled a slump for much of the past year. * AP