- French Open
Federer and Djokovic book spots in last 16
Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic reached the last 16 of the French Open despite dropping their first sets of the tournament.
Federer defeated Dmitry Tursunov 7-5 6-7(7) 6-2 6-4 to reach the fourth round for a record-breaking 12th time, while Djokovic overcame Marin Cilic 6-3 6-2 6-7(2) 6-4 as the pair continue to remain on course for a semi-final clash at Roland Garros.
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There was nothing to separate Federer and Tursunov on their serves as neither player could create a break point opportunity. However, when the first break of the match came along, it turned out to be set point for Federer in the 12th game as he clinched it 7-5.
The second set followed the pattern of the first, but Federer was unable to convert any of his three set points when leading 6-5. Tursunov forced a tiebreak, came from 4-1 down and saved another set point to level the match by taking the tiebreak 9-7.
Federer seized an early break in the third set to comfortably take it 6-2 as Tursunov struggled following a lengthy injury timeout. And the record 17-time grand slam champion converted a break in the seventh game in the fourth set to go on and seal a spot in the fourth round, beating the previous record of 11 appearances held by Guillermo Vilas.
"I'm pleased I found a way and played it solid and tough toward the very end," Federer said. "When somebody serves big like he does, it's sometimes a bit difficult."
Overall, Federer converted only four of his 21 break-point opportunities against Tursunov and even joked when asked, moments after the match, whether his poor conversion rate worried him.
"I pretend there isn't a problem," he said, breaking into a huge grin. "I'll go for the next one, and the next one, and the next one."
He next plays Ernests Gulbis, who reached the fourth round here for the first time since 2008 - the year he reached the last eight - after beating Radek Stepanek 6-3 6-2 7-5.
"I don't want to tell all my cards. But I have a game plan," Gulbis said. "You don't need to be scared to do certain things against him."
Federer leads Gulbis 2-1 in their three career meetings. All of those matches were in 2010, and they are 1-1 on clay.
"I'm aware of the challenge ahead of me," Federer said. "I have had some tough matches with him in the past."
Djokovic secured a ninth win in as many career meetings against Cilic to join Federer and Gulbis in the last 16.
The world No.2 won five games in a row by coming from 3-1 down to take the first set 6-3. The Serb also broke twice in the second set to hold a comfortable advantage.
But Cilic came out fighting in the third set and took it 7-2 in the tiebreak after 64 minutes. The 25th seed then came from 4-1 down to level at 4-4 in the fourth set, but Djokovic won the next two games to end the challenge of his opponent.
Djokovic next plays home favourite Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who saw off Jerzy Janowicz 6-4 6-3 6-3 on Court Philippe Chatrier.
Tomas Berdych, the sixth seed, downed Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut 6-1 6-2 6-7(4) 6-4. He next faces American John Isner, who beat Tommy Robredo 7-6(13) 7-6(3) 6-7(5 ) 7-5.