Federer silences Monfils to book semis spot

PARIS Wed Jun 3, 2009 4:32pm EDT

1 of 5. Roger Federer of Switzerland (L) shakes hand with Gael Monfils of France after winning his quarter-final match at the French Open tennis tournament at Roland Garros in Paris June 3, 2009.

Credit: Reuters/Benoit Tessier

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PARIS (Reuters) - World number two Roger Federer was back to his brilliant best as he eased past local favorite Gael Monfils 7-6 6-2 6-4 to book his place in the French Open semi-finals on Wednesday.

The Swiss will play his 20th consecutive grand slam semi-final against Argentine fifth seed Juan Martin del Potro, who he has beaten in their five previous encounters.

After three successive matches in which he dropped sets, Federer finally found his groove on Wednesday, much to the frustration of Monfils.

Federer, the hot favorite after four-times champion Rafael Nadal was knocked out in the fourth round, saved a set point in the first-set tiebreak before clinching it 8-6 with a forehand volley winner.

It was then much easier for the Swiss, who is gunning for the only major title to have eluded him.

He broke Monfils in the first and third games of the second set, moving the 11th-seeded Frenchman from left to right and often finishing off the points at the net.

Monfils called on the trainer at change of ends before the decider as he appeared to be in distress.

Federer, who is chasing a record-equaling 14th grand slam crown, snatched the decisive break in the ninth game when the Frenchman netted a forehand.

He put him out of his misery on his first match point with a backhand winner after two hours 10 minutes.

"I was very nervous before this match, yesterday and today," said Federer.

"But I have a lot of experience. I know that when I step on the court, I will play well. Or very well."

Federer ran into a spot of bother when he contested a call following a Monfils dropshot that appeared to be wide. He was briefly booed by the 15,000-capacity Center Court crowd but normal service quickly resumed.

"It is very important to me, to have the crowd with me," he said.

(Editing by Pritha Sarkar)

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