First Posted: 6/2/2013
PARIS — Chasing a shot, Roger Federer caught his right shoe in the French Open’s red clay, twisting that foot awkwardly and tumbling to the ground.
Soon enough, he was in a real rut, in danger of his earliest exit from a Grand Slam tournament in nine years.
Federer regrouped and restored order eventually, coming back from a two-sets-to-one deficit to beat 15th-seeded Gilles Simon of France 6-1, 4-6, 2-6, 6-2, 6-3 Sunday in the fourth round to reach his 36th consecutive major quarterfinal.
“I didn’t hurt myself or anything,” Federer said. “But maybe I did lose that touch of confidence for a little bit, and then I was out of the match there for a bit.”
During a rare stretch of mid-match mediocrity from the owner of a record 17 Grand Slam championships — the 2009 French Open trophy is part of his collection — Federer lost 10 of 13 games, including the one in which he fell.
“I didn’t give him time,” said Simon, a one-time Grand Slam quarterfinalist. “I managed to start moving him around a bit.”
But Simon, a former member of the top 10, could not keep Federer down. Able to “tidy up my play,” as he put it, Federer went from hitting more than twice as many unforced errors as Simon in the second and third sets, 25-12, to generating more than twice as many winners in the third and fourth, 29-14.
Federer said the match will give him “a lot of info” heading into his quarterfinal against another Frenchman, No. 6-seeded Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
Federer’s turnaround was not the biggest of the day. Not even close. That distinction belonged to 32nd-seeded Tommy Robredo of Spain, who is specializing in comebacks: He is the first man in 86 years to win three Grand Slam matches in a row after dropping the first two sets (France’s Henri Cochet pulled that off at Wimbledon in 1927).
Robredo did it in the second round Wednesday. He did it in the third round Friday. And then he did it in the fourth round Sunday, defeating No. 11 Nicolas Almagro 6-7 (5), 3-6, 6-4, 6-4, 6-4. Robredo trailed 4-1 in the third set, 4-2 in the fourth and 2-0 in the fifth.
“Nobody dreams of doing such things,” said Robredo, who dropped to his knees, leaned forward and wept after winning.
“I don’t know what adjective to use,” he said.
Robredo’s first French Open quarterfinal since 2009 — he missed the tournament in 2011 and 2012 because of left leg problems that required surgery — will be against another Spaniard, No. 4 David Ferrer, who eliminated No. 23 Kevin Anderson of South Africa 6-3, 6-1, 6-1.
Tsonga, the 2008 Australian Open runner-up, got past Viktor Troicki 6-3, 6-3, 6-3. Tsonga is 3-9 against Federer, but he did come back from a two-set hole to win their 2011 Wimbledon quarterfinal.