Federer into French semi-finals

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The Independent Online

Second seed Roger Federer made his 20th consecutive grand-slam semi-final with a convincing straight-sets victory over France's Gael Monfils at the French Open this evening.

The Swiss, bidding to claim his first Roland Garros title and complete his haul of all four Majors, was in solid form as he swept to a 7-6 (8/6) 6-2 6-4 win on Philippe Chatrier court.

The victory not only moves Federer, the runner-up here the past three years, a step closer to greatness but it will also give him new-found belief after a topsy-turvy campaign at this year's Roland Garros.

Federer looked much more in control of his game today compared to two days ago, when he had to come back from two sets and 4-3 down to defeat Germany's Tommy Haas.

His forehand was back working, his error count was lower and although 11th seed Monfils gave him a decent workout, the contest never lived up to the pre-match hype.

The Swiss, a 13-time grand-slam winner, was forced to save break points in the first and 11th games as an evenly-fought first set went to a tie-break.

After two mini-breaks each, Federer clinched it when he swatted home a forehand volley at the end of a riveting rally.

The former world number one, a four-set winner over Monfils in the 2008 semi-finals here, was even more consistent in the 28-minute second set.

Again his forehand and serve were hitting the spot and he broke twice to take the set and leave an off-key Monfils with a mountain to climb.

The Frenchman called for the doctor prior to the start of the third set, a stomach problem appearing to be the issue. The same doctor would be summoned again at the end of the third game, with the set going with serve with Monfils 2-1 ahead.

The atmosphere by now was somewhat stale and Federer gradually applied the pressure. In game nine, Monfils saved a first break point but on the second the remaining French hope in the men's singles slammed a forehand into the net.

That proved decisive and Federer held comfortably in the next to ease to only his second straight-sets victory this tournament.

He will meet either Juan Martin del Potro or Tommy Robredo in the last four knowing that not only has no-one left in the draw beaten him on clay, but also that his arch-rival Rafael Nadal - toppled in the fourth round - can no longer prevent him winning the title.