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Federer saves two match points, reaches US Open semifinals

NEW YORK (AP) -- Clearly frustrated by his play and opponent, Roger Federer whacked his racket on the top of the net after a missed volley. Moments later, he barked at the chair umpire: "What's wrong with you, man?"

Not long after that, Federer found himself in the precarious position of twice being one point from defeat.

Steady as ever, even at 33, Federer held on. Coming all the way back from a two-set deficit, and saving two match points along the way, Federer edged 20th-seeded Gael Monfils of France 4-6, 3-6, 6-4, 7-5, 6-2 on Thursday night to reach the U.S. Open semifinals for the first time since 2011.

Frustrated by Monfils' unpredictable style, flummoxed by the swirling wind, and missing shots he normally makes, Federer faced the two match points while trailing 5-4 in the fourth set.

"When I was down two match points, that's when I wasn't feeling so great anymore," Federer said with a chuckle. "I thought, `This is it. This is the last point, man. Go down fighting. Don't miss an easy shot and let him have it.'"

He got out of that hole, starting a five-game run that put the match in his control for the first time. It helped that Monfils' quality of play dipped, including what wound up being a total of 10 double-faults.

This was the ninth time Federer has won a match after dropping the opening two sets.

"I served well and stayed in the match and somehow turned it around," Federer said. "I was really starting to play better and better as the match went on. It was a great feeling."

Monfils was trying to reach his second career Grand Slam semifinal. Instead, Federer advanced to his 36th, ninth at Flushing Meadows. Five of Federer's record 17 major singles titles have come at the U.S. Open, but he exited in the quarterfinals in 2012, and the fourth round in 2013.

On Saturday, the second-seeded Federer will play 14th-seeded Marin Cilic of Croatia. The other semifinal will be No. 1 Novak Djokovic against No. 10 Kei Nishikori; their quarterfinal victories came Wednesday.

Cilic wasn't allowed to play in last year's U.S. Open, forced to the sideline by a four-month doping suspension that he says he didn't deserve. But Cilic reached the second Grand Slam semifinal of his career, and first since 2010, by beating sixth-seeded Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic 6-2, 6-4, 7-6 (4) Thursday.

"I mean, it was a difficult period. I didn't know when I'm going to start back. But (it) was also (a) good period for me," Cilic said. "I matured a bit more and I was working, day after day."

His quarterfinal ended hours before the other began, and Cilic probably assumed he would wind up facing Federer next.

But that did not seem a certainty through the first 78 minutes of Federer-Monfils. That's how long it took Monfils to shake off a twisted ankle and build a two-set lead, assisted by Federer's 26 unforced errors in that span.

Even that far behind, Federer said, "I still thought the finish line was far for Gael. I knew I could play better tennis."

The air was swirling in the cavernous arena, rippling the players' shirts and the giant American flag atop the stadium. In the early going, Monfils' whiplike forehand was able to cut through the wind.

Monfils is nothing if not one of a kind. In an era where some men, including Federer, have two coaches, Monfils goes without any. He'll admit to tanking points, games or entire sets. He sips sodas during matches, including Thursday. He'll go for a between-the-legs shot when a mundane forehand would do.

As the clock was about to strike 11 p.m., Monfils held his match points as Federer served. On the first, Monfils had an opening for a backhand passing shot, but it flew long.

On the second, Federer produced a forehand winner, and the crowd roared.

After Federer held there for 5-all, Monfils had a letdown, double-faulting twice in a row to get broken. Soon enough they were in the fifth set - which began with another break by Federer.

By then, he was on his way.

"You start feeling better, because you feel probably he's a bit low right now after such a tough fourth set," Federer said.

Make no mistake, though. This was not easy. The turnaround might not have been possible for Federer a year ago, when he was dealing with a bad back and trying to figure out whether he should switch to a larger racket head.

But now Federer, however old, is approaching his skills of old. He got to the finals at his previous four tournaments - including a loss to Djokovic in Wimbledon's title match in July - the first such run by a 30-something since Ivan Lendl in 1990. One more victory, and Federer's final streak will stretch to five in a row.

Join the discussion

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navy85736usnret September 05 2014 at 1:26 AM

Roger is a class act

Flag Reply +9 rate up
rude September 05 2014 at 7:00 AM

Best news of the day!! Still the best ever!

Flag Reply +9 rate up
2 replies
loser1leo rude September 05 2014 at 7:41 AM

It was so apparent that near the end nature boy was tanking the match, some one gave him the finger to give up .

Flag Reply 0 rate up
1 reply
mzconcetd loser1leo September 05 2014 at 9:50 AM

I thought the same thing. There is no way Roger should have won three sets in a row especially how he played in the first two.

Flag +1 rate up
davedoe12 rude September 05 2014 at 8:45 AM

rude, the 4th set was a tanked on purpose.

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2 replies
rude davedoe12 September 05 2014 at 9:36 AM

GET REAL. No player like Monfils is going to take a dive and lose a major title and the accompanying $$$$$$$.
Oh, did I say GET REAL??

Flag +1 rate up
goggleplex davedoe12 September 05 2014 at 1:58 PM

Do you even have a clue ?.....probably not !

Flag 0 rate up
onionson September 05 2014 at 5:28 AM

Good luck Roger. You were a mighty force in Tennis and a nice guy. I hope you win it all.

Flag Reply +6 rate up
Jim September 05 2014 at 1:29 AM

monfils is a total arrogant ahole. And to see Kevin Garnett laughing and loving the arrogant antics of Monfils convinces me Garnett is just as classless as Monfils. Grow Up !

Flag Reply +4 rate up
1 reply
art Jim September 05 2014 at 5:50 AM

yeah, and that tan monfils has doesn't go over too well in this country. he might even be related to Obama. tongue firmly in cheek!

Flag Reply +2 rate up
3 replies
oujoou September 05 2014 at 4:07 AM

Wow. Didn't see the match. Very excited about his results this year. Finals at Wimbledon. Semis here. Pulling out a tight match last night. He's in his 30's now. lol. Poor Frenchman. 2 match points blown.:( I never understood why people think you can't do well past like 28 in individual pro sports. Williams and Federer are hopefully the new trend. :)

Flag Reply +2 rate up
2 replies
onionson oujoou September 05 2014 at 5:25 AM

Don't insult Roger by saying he is French.

Flag Reply +1 rate up
2 replies
soberlyf onionson September 05 2014 at 8:31 AM

He's talking about his opponent Monfils bonehead.

Flag +1 rate up
onionson onionson September 05 2014 at 1:54 PM

How can you tell Sr. Bonehead? He described a guy in his late 30s, laughed, then said "poor Frenchman". The problem might be an inability to communicate reasonably well.

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soberlyf oujoou September 05 2014 at 8:37 AM

It's because short of gymnastics which isn't a pro sport, tennis players have the smallest window to be successful. They can win on savvy sometimes, but a 35 year old doesn't have the "wind" of a 25 year old, or the speed. Don't bother listing exceptions, that's why they're called exceptions.

Flag Reply 0 rate up
Marcia September 05 2014 at 8:51 AM

I stopped following Roger after he married that tart and broke my heart.

Flag Reply +2 rate up
passion4tennis8 September 05 2014 at 2:04 AM

when it comes down to talent and athleticism, not many can match Monfils. When it comes to heart and pure will, not many can match Federer. I think we saw which one is a better trait tonight ;-) Well done, G.O.A.T

Flag Reply +1 rate up
ga7smi September 05 2014 at 11:59 AM

so staged - as bad as wrestling - I do like the man though

Flag Reply 0 rate up
1 reply
rude ga7smi September 05 2014 at 12:47 PM

And I hear the Super Bowl and Masters are staged as well.
(Don't tell anybody, but Paul McCartney is dead and JFK is alive)

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HEIDE September 05 2014 at 10:36 AM

Roger Federer and Serena Williams are the two most focused players on the tennis tours. Roger is such a gentleman and poetry in motion. What mental control he exudes. It's such a pleasure and privilege to watch. Monfils needs to join Cirque de Soleil. He is good, but he is such a clown

Flag Reply 0 rate up
Mike September 05 2014 at 9:47 AM

First 4 sets were great. Both played fantastic. Monfils was a disgrace in the 5th however. He just gave up and put forth zero effort. No heart. Love to see Federer in the final again.

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