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Roger Federer started off fairly comfortably against Tommy Haas, as he had a fabulous set on the serve not losing a point on it till 6-6. He then proceeded to play a terrible tie-break to undo all that good work and go down a set. Inspirational play broke Haas' serve early in the second but 3 straight forehand errors gave Haas the return gift to 4-4. Down 5-6 and serving to take the set into another tie-break, Federer once again made a bunch of errors and lost the set 7-5. Haas for his part didn't give any cheap points playing particularly solid from the back of the court - only 11 errors to go with 23 winners over the 2 sets. This was for Roger probably the most important moment of his tennis playing career as his long-term quest for a French Open titleÃƒâ€šÃ‚Â seemed to have slipped him by. It needed a heroic effort to resurrect the campaign for that particular goal. Perhaps what was needed was a greater level of intensity because Federer had been showing all the signs of somnambulism uptil then. He didn't immediately respond, but down break point at 3-4, a combination of Federer at his most intense and Haas playing the worst he had all match allowed Federer to recover and break to take the set 6-4. Going into set 4 Haas clearly still had his mind back in the end of set 3 as he made a flubbed series of shots to lose serve straight up. Things only got worse for Haas, and he handed the set to Federer on a platter 6-0. The 5th set started off brightly for the German, and he resumed putting the pressure on Federer. Federer though, responded admirably. Finally playing with the kind of confidence and urgency that we expect from the great man, he broke Haas for 3-2 and held for 4-2 with 3 consecutive aces. Riding on this he sprinted to the finish line 6-2. This comeback will hopefully help Federer deal with the unfamiliar pressure of being the favourite here, but more than anything is a loud and clear warning that he needs to be at his best if he is to land this prize. "Carpe Diem" must be his battle cry and today can be a potent reminder why.
In what was anticipatedÃƒâ€šÃ‚Â to be theÃƒâ€šÃ‚Â contest of the day, Del Potro came out of the blocks firing as much as Tsonga did not. Serving big, hitting strong and consistent from the baseline, Del Potro ran out an early 3-0 lead. He continued in the same vein, not allowing Tsonga to develop any kind of coherent attack, and ran away with the first set 6-1. In the second set Tsonga set his stall and attempted to loosen the stranglehold Del Potro had on the match. Going back behind the big Argentine helped, and with the odd dash of flair he succeeded in taking the tie-break to even the match. Del Potro though regained control in the third set. With a nice easy swing, the Argentine generated impressive power off his 6'6" frame. That power and consistency hurt Tsonga and a double break gave Del Potro the set 6-1. Nothing much changed in set 4 as Tsonga couldn't find the play to consistently hurt Del Potro and bowed out of the tourney 6-4 in the 4th.
Among all the hoopla surrounding the Federers and the Tsongas, veteran Tommy Robredo quietly overcame Kohlscreiber, the conqueror of the Djoker, to move to his 4th quarter final here. An interesting point for all the trivia lovers - Tommy Robredo has reached the quarters every alternate year over the last 7 years. Gael Monfils brought to an end Andy Roddick's inspired run on clay. Monfils who came into the tournament under an injury cloud clearly is untroubled, as he gave the American a lesson in clay-court tennis beating him 6-4, 6-2, 6-3.
Serena Williams cruised through in straight sets against Wozniak from Canada. Clearly punching well over her weight, Aleksandra Wozniak never had a chance against the World no.2 Serena, who hit 25 winners and only 8 unforced errors in breezing through. In the quarterfinal she will play Svetlana Kuznetsova, who beat Pole Agnieska Radwanska. Kuznetsova dropped a set for the first time in the tournament as she went walkabout in the second before recovering to run away with the third. Romanian Sorana Cirstea picked up the biggest win of her fledgling career as she defeated former World No.1 Jelena Jankovic in 3 sets. Sorana put up a magnificent display of nerveless hitting as she kept going for her shots, stayed aggressive and pipped Jelena at the post to move to her first quarterfinal 9-7 in the third.
Leander Paes and Lukas Dlouhy eased through to the semi-finals of the men's doubles defeating the 5th seeded pair of Soares & Ullyett in straight sets. They are now likely to play the no.1 seeds - Nestor and Zimonjic for a place in the final.
Preview for tomorrow:
The quarterfinals begin tomorrow heralding the start of the business end of the tournament. Dinara Safina will look to stamp out the challenge of Azarenka who has been in good form through this tournament. Murray takes on Gonzalez in a huge match for the Brit. Nadal conqueror Robin Soderling plays Kolya and it will be interesting to see if he suffers the letdown so common after posting the huge win. Finally Sharapova takes on Cibulkova. Masha (Maria Sharapova) is bound to be physically and mentally tired after 4 straight matches that have gone the distance - it remains to be seen whether the unrelenting desire drives her through this round as well.
R.Federer d T.Haas 6-7(4), 5-7, 6-4, 6-0, 6-2
J.M.Del Potro d J.W.Tsonga 6-1, 6-7(5), 6-1, 6-4
T.Robredo d P.Kohlschreiber 6-4, 5-7, 7-6(4), 6-2
S.Williams d A.Wozniak 6-1, 6-2
S.Kuznetsova d A.Radwanska 6-4, 1-6, 6-1
S.Cirstea d J.Jankovic 3-6, 6-0, 9-7
L.Paes/L.Dlouhy d B.Soares/K.Ullyett 6-2, 7-6(5)
File Photograph Copyright: Constantini (Italian Open)
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