Fed­erer-Mon­fils is halted af­ter 2 sets, games suspended

The China Post - - SPORTS - BY HOWARD FENDRICH

Roger Fed­erer could be ex­cused if he has a rest­less night.

With thick gray clouds over­head and light slip­ping away at the end of a rainy day, Fed­erer got bro­ken by Gael Mon­fils to even their French Open fourth-round match at a set apiece, right be­fore play was suspended Sun­day.

They met on the side­line to chat with the chair um­pire, then clasped hands, and Mon­fils gave Fed­erer a play­ful pat on the shoul­der. Spec­ta­tors at Court Philippe Cha­trier booed and whis­tled upon hear­ing there’d be no more ten­nis.

Fed­erer, the 17- time Grand Slam cham­pion, and Mon­fils, the flam­boy­ant French­man who won their two most re­cent en­coun­ters, will re­sume Mon­day. At least they fin­ished two sets, with Fed­erer tak­ing the first 6-3, and Mon­fils win­ning the sec­ond 6-4.

Two women’s matches did not begin at all Sun­day, in­clud­ing de­fend­ing cham­pion Maria Shara­pova against Lu­cie Sa­farova.

In the quar­ter­fi­nals, Fed­erer or Mon­fils will face Fed­erer’s Swiss Davis Cup team­mate Stan Wawrinka, seeded eighth, who had no trou­ble beat­ing 12th-seeded French­man Gilles Simon 6-1, 6-4, 6-2.

Wawrinka said he’ll be watch­ing the rest of Fed­erer-Mon­fils “like any ten­nis fan.”

On the other half of the draw, No. 5 Kei Nishikori be­came the first Ja­panese man in 82 years to reach the quar­ter­fi­nals in Paris, elim­i­nat­ing Tey­mu­raz Gabashvili 6-3, 6-4, 6-2.

The only other man from his coun­try to make it this far at this tour­na­ment was Jiro Sa­toh, a semi­fi­nal­ist in 1931 and 1933.

Next for Nishikori is No. 14 JoWil­fried Tsonga of France, who over­came a mid-match lapse to de­feat No. 4 To­mas Berdych 6-3, 6-2, 6-7 (5), 6-3.

Tsonga, the 2008 Aus­tralian Open run­ner-up, served for the match at 5-4 in the third set but got bro­ken, and his sloppy play car­ried into the tiebreaker.

Had he man­aged to close things out ear­lier, or if a rain de­lay of about 2 1/2 hours hadn’t in­ter­rupted ac­tion in the af­ter­noon, Fed­erer and Mon­fils might have fin­ished. They didn’t get on court un­til af­ter 7 p.m. and com­peted for less than 70 min­utes.

With the tem­per­a­ture in the low 60s (teens Cel­sius), Mon­fils cov­ered up with a blan­ket and blew his nose into a tis­sue dur­ing a changeover. As nat­u­ral light dis­ap­peared — there are no ar­ti­fi­cial lights at Roland Gar­ros, and a roof won’t ar­rive be­fore 2019 — the chair um­pire re­minded fans they shouldn’t use a flash while tak­ing pho­tos dur­ing points.

Mon­fils got bro­ken while serv­ing for the sec­ond set at 5-3, and Fed­erer — who lost in the fourth round last year — had an open­ing to per­haps steal a two-set lead. But Mon­fils re­sponded in the next game, win­ning an 18-stroke ex­change with a fore­hand to earn to set point, then con­vert­ing with a back­hand that drew roars from the crowd.

Mon­fils leaped,

yelled “Allez!” and waved both arms to ask for more noise.

Mo­ments later, ev­ery­one was sent home, set­ting up quite a sched­ule Mon­day. Along with Fed­erer-Mon­fils and Shara­po­vaSa­farova, there will be matches fea­tur­ing Rafael Nadal, No­vak Djokovic, Andy Mur­ray and Serena Wil­liams.

In a women’s match Sun­day, No. 7 Ana Ivanovic beat No. 9 Eka­te­rina Makarova 7-5, 3-6, 6-1 to re­turn to the quar­ter­fi­nals for the first time since win­ning the 2008 ti­tle.

Her match was halted by rain af­ter five games, and tour­na­ment of­fi­cials wa­vered about when to re­sume.

She’ll play No. 19 Elina Svi­tolina, a 20-year-old from Ukraine who reached her first ma­jor quar­ter­fi­nal with a 6-2, 7-6 (9) victory over No. 29 Al­ize Cor­net.

In the sec­ond set, Cor­net be­rated the chair um­pire over a line call, dar­ing her to “give me a warn­ing” and say­ing the of­fi­cial “stole” a point. Later, Cor­net re­ferred to the rul­ing as “a shame” and “a scan­dal.”

AP

Switzer­land’s Roger Fed­erer re­turns the ball to France’s Gael Mon­fils dur­ing their fourth round match of the French Open ten­nis tour­na­ment at the Roland Gar­ros sta­dium on Sun­day, May 31.

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