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French Open

Federer fights back to reach semifinals

  • Story Highlights
  • Roger Federer books his place in a grand slam semifinal for the 16th time
  • The world No.1 dispatches Fernando Gonzalez in four sets at French Open
  • Federer will face Gael Monfils, after the Frenchman beat fifth seed David Ferrer
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(CNN) -- Roger Federer booked his place in a grand slam semifinal for the 16th time in succession as he dispatched Fernando Gonzalez in four sets at the French Open.

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Federer salutes the crowd after recovering froom the loss of the opening set to defeat Fernando Gonzalez.

The Swiss world number one, seeking his maiden title at Roland Garros, made a sluggish start out on Suzanne Lenglen Court but rallied in time-honored fashion to canter to a 2-6 6-2 6-3 6-4 win in a minute over two hours.

Federer had a 10-1 advantage in all meetings with the 24th seeded Chilean prior to this latest encounter -- but his confidence may have been tempered by Gonzalez's superb 16-0 record on clay in 2008.

Gonzalez backed up those impressive statistics as he came flying out of the traps, breaking the first Federer service game before holding to open up immediate breathing space.

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Federer held and then broke back for 2-2 but Gonzalez immediately responded, unlocking his opponent's serve once again as Federer began to misfire.

Federer fired long trying to defend another break point to slip 5-2 behind while another mistimed Federer groundstroke in the next game handed his opponent the opening set after just 25 minutes.

But in typical Federer style, the tables were turned in the next set, the world number one returning the favor of a 6-2 set to pull level in the match.

The 12-time grand slam champion was well into his stride now and an early break in the second ensured a 3-0 lead in the next set that he never looked in danger of relinquishing.

Gonzalez held the rest of the way but it mattered little as the Federer serve stayed strong before the Swiss moved ahead in the match for the first time, his 10th ace of the match sealing 6-3 third set win.

The crucial break again went the way of Federer in the fourth, and although Gonzalez held to love for 5-4, there were no jitters from his opponent, who coolly served out the match in the next game.

"I needed to get off to a good start in the second set because I wasn't playing that great and Fernando was playing well," said Federer.

"Getting broke three times in the same set is going to get you rattled, but I got on a roll and dominated him at times. He is quite unpredictable, a dangerous player who has the game to upset the big guys."

Federer will have an unexpected opponent in the last four in the shape of unseeded 21-year-old Gael Monfils -- who became the first Frenchman through to the last four since Sebastien Grosjean in 2001 when he put out fifth seed David Ferrer of Spain 6-3 3-6 6-3 6-1.

Federer and Monfils have met three times previously and the Frenchman has yet to win a set, but the Swiss maestro is wary of him. "He's French and he's very fit at the moment," he said.

Friday's other semifinal will oppose triple defending champion Rafael Nadal and third seed Novak Djokovic. They both reached the last four on Tuesday.

Monfils' run into the last four has taken everyone by suprise. A former world junior champion, he has found the step up to the senior ranks a hard one to successfully achieve both on the physical and mental fronts.

Ranked a lowly 59th in the world, his form was so poor in the run-up to the tournament that he was forced to play a second-tier Challenger event in Morocco.

Monfils had never got beyond the fourth round of any grand slam before this year, but his win has now ignited hopes of a homegrown men's title, 25 years after Yannick Noah's emotional triumph.

Against Ferrer he opened impressively to take the first set, but then appeared to be on his last legs as the gritty Ferrer battled back to level the scores.

Unexpectedly it was the Spaniard who wilted in the two following sets as the Parisian-born player joyfully marched into his first grand slam semifinal.

Monfils will start as a huge underdog against Federer, but he sounded a note of optimism after his win over Ferrer. "I will be out for revenge," he said. "I've lost twice to him this year already but this time I will be ready."

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