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Tough fight as Federer just avoids Nadal fate

ROGER Federer roared and 15,000 fans hollered as the Swiss clung on by his fingertips to his French Open dreams yesterday and avoided joining Rafael Nadal on the Roland Garros scrapheap.

With the claycourt major still reeling from the exit of four-time champion Nadal just 24 hours earlier, Federer was on the brink of the same fate before finding the strength to bury German Tommy Haas 6-7 (4), 5-7, 6-4, 6-0, 6-2.

When Haas swiped a service return wide after three hours and seven minutes, Federer leapt high in the air and let out an almighty roar to mark the moment he had booked a quarterfinal spot.

Only 70 minutes earlier, it had looked like the Swiss would suffer his earliest grand slam loss since 2004 when he came within five points of defeat in the third set.

At two sets and 3-4 down facing a break point, Federer conjured a screaming forehand winner to bring the scores back to deuce. Federer earned his get-out-of-jail-free card two points later when Haas hit a forehand long.

From then on, Federer won eight games and his charge toward a record-equalling 14th grand slam title was safe.

"Tommy played a great match, I struggled to get into the encounter," said Federer, who has reached the semifinals or better in the last 19 grand slam events.

"When I hit that forehand to save a break point at 3-4 in the third, I had the feeling it could be a turning point in the match," added the Swiss.

Nadal's compatriot Tommy Robredo beat Djokovic's conqueror Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-4, 5-7, 7-6 (4), 6-2.

For once, Serena Williams did not provide any drama, beating Canadian Aleksandra Wozniak 6-1, 6-2.

World No. 2 Williams, who created a commotion in the previous round after labeling her opponent a "cheat" following a disputed point, was the model of decorum in the thrashing of the 24th seed.

The 2002 champion, at 27 the oldest woman left in the draw, will next face seventh seed Svetlana Kuznetsova, who beat Agnieszka Radwanska 6-4, 1-6, 6-1.


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