x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

French Open: Comeback king Tommy Robredo sets up a smasher

Roger Federer through to the quarter-finals after five-set epic with Gilles Simon, while Serena Williams marches on.

Spaniard Tommy Robredo gets emotional after winning his fourth-round match against compatriot Nicolas Almagro.
Spaniard Tommy Robredo gets emotional after winning his fourth-round match against compatriot Nicolas Almagro.

Tommy Robredo was much happier with his place in the French Open quarter-finals than his place in history after a remarkable win over Nicolas Almagro.

For the third successive match, Robredo fought back from two sets down, matching a feat achieved only once before in grand slam tennis, by the Frenchman Henri Cochet at Wimbledon in 1927.

Robredo, though, said: “I don’t really care, frankly. What is very important is that today I won this match.

“I won a big match against a player who defeated me five times. And the rest is only records.
“I played a player who is incredible on clay. I’m not thinking about history. History is this match I played today. It’s not the score that counts.”

Almagro, the 11th seed, looked in complete control at two sets up and was a break ahead in the third, fourth and fifth as well, but he could not put away his fellow Spaniard and Robredo fought back to win 6-7, 3-6, 6-4, 6-4, 6-4.

Robredo, 31, sobbed into the clay as the crowd chanted his name, and he conceded, at 4-1 down in the third set, he could not have imagined what was to come.

He said: “Maybe he had a little bit of doubt in that moment. And then I just pushed hard and I won the third. And then I was just dreaming and dreaming to try to do it again, and I did it.

“I know players like me, when you dream, you always dream to win the trophy or to win the match, but you never realise that you are going to win being two sets down and 4-1 down, and 4-2 in the fourth and 2-0 in the fifth.

“But, anyway, it’s a lovely dream. And hopefully I can remember it a lot of times because during the year you don’t have that many experiences like that.”


Robredo next plays fellow Spaniard and fourth seed David Ferrer, who continued his cruise through the draw with a 6-3, 6-1, 6-1 victory over South Africa’s Kevin Anderson.

Ferrer is into his sixth consecutive grand slam quarter-final and hoping to reach his first final, but he said: “Tennis doesn’t owe me anything. Tennis is one of the fairest sports. It’s given me so many extraordinary feelings.”

Also through to the last eight is the French favourite Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who has looked in fine form so far in Paris and beat Serbia’s Viktor Troicki 6-3, 6-3, 6-3.

He will now face Roger Federer, who came back from two sets to one down to defeat Gilles Simon 6-1, 4-6, 2-6, 6-2, 6-3.

Ask her to describe the way she plays and Serena Williams has a one-word response.

Fierce.

She is unlikely to hear a word of disagreement from Roberta Vinci after the Italian was beaten 6-1, 6-3 yesterday in the fourth round of the French Open, a result that keeps Williams on course to win a first Roland Garros title since 2002.

The match hammered home the inescapable truth that there is no substitute for raw power in the modern women’s game as Williams, whose shots are the heaviest in the women’s game, ably demonstrated by outmuscling the canny Vinci.

The Italian found out that as you head into the second week of a grand slam, you need at least one weapon in your armoury that can put your opponent at a disadvantage.

Williams has an arsenal at her disposal and wrapped up victory for the loss of only four games, to take the total she has conceded in the tournament to 10.

A sterner test for Williams is likely to come in the next round; her quarter-final opponent is the 2009 champion and former world No 2 Svetlana Kuznetsova, 27, who is not seeded at Roland Garros for the first time since 2003 but beat the American when they last played here.

The Russian dropped to 85th in the world after a six-month injury layoff following last year’s Wimbledon, but has climbed to 39 and is a walloping baseliner who can crunch winners off both flanks.

Kuznetsova booked her place in the quarter-finals by outplaying the German eighth seed Angelique Kerber 6-4, 4-6, 6-3.

“She’s the best in the world so far. She’s been playing unbelievable tennis,” Kuznetsova said of Williams. “But I believe that I have my game and my good days, as well. Let’s cross fingers I will have a good day.”

Sara Errani also progressed with a 5-7, 6-4, 6-3 win over Carla Suarez Navarro.