x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Federer battles back to reach French final

Roger Federer will face Robin Soderling in the French Open final after coming from two sets to one down to defeat Juan Martin del Potro.

Roger Federer roars with delight and relief after winning his French Open semi-final against Juan Martin del Potro in five sets.
Roger Federer roars with delight and relief after winning his French Open semi-final against Juan Martin del Potro in five sets.

Roger Federer stayed on course for a first French Open title after coming from two sets to one down to defeat Juan Martin del Potro in nerveless fashion in their Roland Garros semi-final. The Swiss, bidding to complete his haul of the grand slams, recovered from a slow start to claim a 3-6 7-6 (7/2) 2-6 6-1 6-4 victory in three hours and 28 minutes. The second seed will meet Robin Soderling in Sunday's final after the Swede defeated Fernando Gonzalez 6-3 7-5 5-7 4-6 6-4 earlier today in another thrilling five-setter to continue his remarkable run in Paris. It was Federer's second five-set win this tournament - he was also taken the distance by Tommy Haas in the fourth round - and he has reached his fourth straight final here without being on top form. He is now just one win away from becoming the sixth player to complete a sweep of the Majors. The title here would also move him level with Pete Sampras on a record 14 grand slam crowns. When Federer, 27, lost the third set to Del Potro, the Argentinian was serving consistently and his powerful groundstrokes were proving too much for the world No 2. By that stage, Federer had only earned two break points, converting neither of them, but he turned that around to finish the stronger. Federer, installed as title favourite after Soderling dumped out reigning champion Rafael Nadal in round four, had won all his previous five meetings with Del Potro, not even dropping a set. But he was broken in the fifth and ninth games to lose the first set and Del Potro was dictating the rallies, feasting off Federer's weak and short backhands. Del Potro played a poor second-set tie-break, sending four shots into the net to gift the Swiss the leveller, but he still held the whip hand and sped through a 36-minute third set during which he broke twice more. As the South American tired, Federer found an extra gear, as he has done so often this past fortnight, and suddenly dominated Del Potro's serve. Two breaks were sufficient to win the fourth set convincingly and he broke early in the fifth too. Del Potro grabbed one himself as the light started to fade on Philippe Chatrier court, but he double-faulted in game seven to put Federer back in front. This time, the Swiss did not falter and went on to win the final set 6-4.

* PA Sport