Roland Garros – round 3rd + 4th
The 21-year-old David Goffin  of Belgium came to Paris with a humble 5-5 main-level record of 2012, yet became a tournament revelation. The young player was defeated in his last qualifying match by Joao Souza 3-6 6-7, but jumped into the main draw thanks to withdrawal of Gael Monfils. In the opening two rounds he won first career 5-set battles, ousting two veterans: Radek Stepanek and Arnaud Clement, from two-sets-to-one down on both occasions. In the third round he came back from a 2:5 in the 1st and 3:5 deficit in the 2nd set to beat Lukasz Kubot 7-6 7-5 6-1. The angry and frustrated Pole spat towards the Belgian in the 3rd set. Kubot was given a code violation by the chair umpire, he was probably upset by the partisan crowd with plenty of Belgian supporters… Goffin doesn’t look like a tennis player, his slender body building and lack of wristbands (wore a red one on right wrist in his fourth match) reminds more of a table tennis player. He is fast, takes the ball early and serves surprisingly well considering his posture. He has already inscribed himself to record books as the first player to reach last 16 in Paris being a “lucky loser” # “I had his photos and posters in my room,” said Goffin on Roger Federer. “Since I was very young, I watched him play on television. For me, for a long time, he plays near-perfect tennis, with perfect technique. And I also like him in human terms.” It was tough to expect that Goffin playing against his idol would be able to hold service games not facing a break point through almost entire two sets, but it happened on Suzanne Lenglen court! On third set point in the 1st set, Goffin played a stunning forehand DTL from the tram-lines and led 5:4* (30/15) in the 2nd set being two points away from a sensational two-sets-to-love lead – Federer responded with a bunch of good serves and the momentum shifted onto his side. The Swiss won by a 5-7 7-5 6-2 6-4 margin. He had an excellent draw to the quarterfinals (his highest ranked opponent is 78th in the world) and it’s really surprising that has lost three sets in the process.
In the same time on Philippe Chartier, an other 4th round novice – Andreas Seppi – was playing surprisingly good tennis against Novak Djokovic. The Serb started the match with a 3:0 lead, but Seppi better adjusted to difficult conditions (strong wind and penetrating chill – the temperature on Sunday dropped 10 degrees comparing to previous days). The Italian was spreading the ball with a terrific depth and accuracy, his best moment came as he broke Djokovic in the 5th game of the 2nd set with three consecutive winners, the last one after a rally in which No. 1 was invited to the net and immediately repelled. Seppi led 5:3* (30/15) in the 2nd set when Djokovic finally found his rhythm, broke back and was four times two points away from tying the match. The Italian survived an untypical tie-break, decided just by one mini-break on set point (Djokovic’s forehand error). Seppi, who played two consecutive five-setters, wore off, but cut a *0:3 (30/40) deficit in the 4th set and was two games away from producing an enormous upset – it’s a very long distance in tennis though, especially against such a clutch player like Djokovic, who stepped up and after 4 hours 18 minutes finished the contest with a drive-FH-volley directly after the return (4-6 6-7 6-3 7-5 6-3) improving his perfect record against Seppi to 8-0. “I didn’t have such a good start [to the third set],” reflected Seppi. “Maybe if I could stay in front or so in the third set, it could change a little bit. And that’s the only thing I could do better, I think, to just start a little bit better there, the third set.”
Stanislas Wawrinka was involved in two straight five-setters against local pupils. First, he ousted Gilles Simon 7-5 6-7 6-7 6-3 6-2 saving two break points at 1:3 in the 4th set, afterwards in a revenge of last year’s meeting on Philippe Chatrier he had to admit the Jo-Wilfried Tsonga‘s superiority. The Frenchman, saved a triple set point in the 2nd set (with three service winners, the last one second serve). Wawrinka despite a small injury won the next two sets easily. At *4:2 for Tsonga in the decider the match was suspended due to darkness. On the following day Wawrinka broke back, but Tsonga took the last two games and the match 6-4 7-6 3-6 3-6 6-4 – the advancement to the quarterfinals is his biggest result achieved on clay. “Today, I came on the court [in] good spirits,” said Tsonga. “I had a good night. I slept well. I was ready to play again.” The resumption was also required in the match between two tall hard-hitters, Juan Martin del Potro and Tomas Berdych. Del Potro avenged the semifinal defeat in Madrid, winning 7-6 1-6 6-3 7-5 (three sets on Sunday, the fourth one on Monday).
The strongest contender to the title, Rafael Nadal has been in a scary form. He was *1:2 (30-all) in the 1st set against very solid this year Juan Monaco when notched a 17-game winning streak! Poor Monaco had his chance to win just one game in both bagel-sets. “Very happy the way I played,” said Nadal. “I think he’s playing probably the best tennis of his career, but probably not today, especially the last set, when he started to miss. I saw him suffering a little bit on court at the end. He’s one of my best friends on tour. I feel very sorry for him.” Nadal’s semifinal rival of three Grand Slam tournaments last year – Andy Murray – survived second 4-setter this year concluded after an identical scoreline (!) 1-6 6-4 6-1 6-2, this time against Richard Gasquet who squandered a couple break points at 4-all in the 2nd set and fell apart. “The game was not in my favour,” said Gasquet on that game. “And then I lost my confidence, and then he was feeling good.”
Longest match: 4 hours, 33 minutes. Juan Monaco d. Milos Raonic 6-7, 6-3, 6-7, 6-3, 6-4
Most aces: 26 – Milos Raonic, lost to Juan Monaco (third round)
5-set barometer: 18-12 Stanislas Wawrinka, 16-5 Novak Djokovic, 15-10 Fernando Verdasco, 14-7 Tomas Berdych, 10-10 Andreas Seppi, 8-10 Paul-Henri Mathieu, 8-6 Gilles Simon, 8-3 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, 6-1 Marcel Granollers, 4-6 Juan Monaco, 4-5 Kevin Anderson, 1-1 Milos Raonic
# Farthest advancements of “lucky losers” in majors:
Australian Open: Glenn Layendecker (3rd round 1991)
Roland Garros: David Goffin (4th round 2012)
Wimbledon: Dick Norman (4th round 1995)
US Open: Fernando Verdasco (3rd round 2003)
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