Federer and Djokovic stay on course for clash

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The Independent Online

Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic stayed on course for a blockbuster semi-final clash at the French Open as they both made light work of potentially tricky fourth-round encounters.

Federer beat Swiss compatriot Stanislas Wawrinka 6-3 6-2 7-5 while Djokovic made it 41 wins for the year and 43 in a row in total by brushing aside Richard Gasquet 6-4 6-4 6-2.

Both were somewhat upstaged by Djokovic's next opponent Fabio Fognini, though, after he saved five match points and defied injury to beat Albert Montanes 4-6 6-4 3-6 6-3 11-9.

Victory for Djokovic over the Italian would see him tie John McEnroe's record start to a season from 1984 of 42 straight wins, while he would also only be two away from Guillermo Vilas' all-time record of 46 victories.

Federer registered his ninth win from 10 matches against Wawrinka, who also lost to his friend at the same stage at Roland Garros last year and in the quarter-finals of the Australian Open in January.

Wawrinka had fought back from two sets down to beat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga on Friday and he looked set to mount another comeback when he went a break up at the start of the third today, but Federer was having none of it.

The 29-year-old said: "I'm very happy with the way it went. I knew the danger coming into this match on clay. I still think it is his best surface, even though maybe it's been somewhat of a disappointing clay-court season for him."

Federer set his own record by reaching a 28th consecutive grand slam quarter-final, breaking the mark he jointly held with Jimmy Connors - although the American missed a number of Australian and French Opens.

With his win over Juan Martin Del Potro yesterday, Djokovic moved past Federer's best unbeaten run of 41 matches from 2006/07.

Giving an insight into the Serb's mindset, Federer said: "I think you definitely feel invincible at times. But in a knockout system like we have in tennis, you're never quite sure.

"The trickier part is all of a sudden you think I'm winning so much, eventually somebody's going to snap that streak. When everybody started to talk about it, the more likely it was going to happen. It's kind of tough to keep your head down and just focus."

Wawrinka insisted he does still believe he can beat Federer, saying: "I don't think it's a mental thing. Today I felt I was not playing a bad match. There was even a time when I felt I played well, but it just was not enough."

Fognini looked down and out on a number of occasions during his four-hour-and-22-minute match against Montanes, trailing by a break in the decider and then receiving treatment to his left leg in the 14th game when he was only two points from defeat.

The Italian was clearly struggling but Montanes could not take advantage of match points at 7-8 or 8-9 and he was then broken before Fognini, in the fourth round of a grand slam for the first time, served out a remarkable win.

He admitted he could be struggling to be fit to face Djokovic, though, saying: "I believed it was cramp but it is not cramp. At the moment I am in a lot of pain. I really don't know what will happen.

"I'm happy because I'm in the quarter-finals but I'm very tired. Of course I should have lost this match. But tennis is a sport where anything can happen."

Montanes seemed annoyed by Fognini's use of the trainer at such a crucial point, but he declined to criticise the Italian afterwards, saying: "Everybody does what they have to do.

"Everybody plays their game. He played really well. I'd like to congratulate him and wish him all the best for the matches to come."

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