Skip to main content

Big scares for Djokovic and Federer at French Open

June 3, 2012 -- Updated 1956 GMT (0356 HKT)
Serbian tennis star Novak Djokovic was relieved after finally overcoming Andreas Seppi at Roland Garros on Sunday.
Serbian tennis star Novak Djokovic was relieved after finally overcoming Andreas Seppi at Roland Garros on Sunday.
  • World No. 1 Novak Djokovic rallies from 2-0 down to reach French Open quarterfinals
  • Serbian beats 25th-ranked Italian Andreas Seppi in more than four hours at Roland Garros
  • Third seed Roger Federer also comes from behind to beat Belgian debutant David Goffin
  • Federer joins Andre Agassi on 36 last-eight appearances in grand slam tournaments

(CNN) -- While Rafael Nadal was celebrating his 26th birthday, the two biggest threats to his hopes of a record seventh French Open title were battling to stay in the tournament.

World No. 1 Novak Djokovic came from two sets down on Court Philippe Chatrier on Sunday to salvage his hopes of becoming the first man since Rod Laver in 1969 to hold all four grand slam titles.

On Court Suzanne Langlen, 16-time grand slam champion Roger Federer fought back after losing the first set to a player who idolized him as a child and only gained entry into the main draw as a lucky loser from qualifying.

Both advanced to the quarterfinals ahead of Nadal, who will take on Argentine 13th seed Juan Monaco on Monday.

Jaded No. 1 Azarenka crashes out in Paris

The last time Djokovic came from two sets down was against Federer in the U.S. Open semifinals in September, when the Serbian won his fourth major title.

Spirit, fitness and David Ferrer
Michael Chang's historic French victory
Brian Baker's grand slam comeback
Gilles Simon's endurance advantage

Since then he has added a third Australian Open to his collection, but his form in 2012 has not reached the stunning heights of last year -- when his 43-match winning run was ended by the Swiss veteran in the semifinals at Roland Garros.

"I played very badly, but I won thanks to my fighting spirit," Djokovic said after struggling to beat Italy's world No. 25 Andreas Seppi 4-6 6-7 (5-7) 6-3 7-5 6-3 in more than four hours on Sunday.

"He was the better player for the first two sets and I was fortunate to come through. But even at two sets down I still believed I could do it, and that's about the only positive I can take. It was one of those days when nothing worked."

Seppi, appearing in the fourth round of a major for the first time, had won only two sets in losing their seven previous meetings.

Nadal ready for first real test at Roland Garros

Djokovic will next take on either French fifth seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga or Swiss No. 18 Stanislas Wawrinka, having reached the last eight of a grand slam for the 12th consecutive time.

Tsonga led 6-4 7-6 (8-6) 3-6 3-6 4-2 in a virtual repeat of his clash with Wawrinka last year when play was suspended due to fading light.

Federer is through to his 32nd successive quarterfinal after beating 21-year-old Belgian debutant David Goffin 5-7 7-5 6-2 6-4.

The 30-year-old is now tied with American Andre Agassi on 36 last-eight appearances, leaving them second equal overall behind Jimmy Connors' record of 41.

He will next take on either Czech seventh seed Tomas Berdych or 2009 U.S. Open champion Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina -- who led 7-6 (8-6) 1-6 6-3 when play was halted long before the Tsonga-Wawrinka match, despite appearing to struggle with a strapped-up knee.

"I thought he played really well. Great impression," Federer said of his young opponent. "He took the ball early every time.

"He's got great potential in terms of his touch and the way he reads the game. I thought it was an interesting match."

Goffin, who told the crowd after the match that he had pictures of Federer on his wall as a child, was ranked 109th in the world when the clay-court tournament started but he will be up to 68th when it ends next Sunday.

He won his first two qualifiers but was beaten in the third before a late reprieve after home hope Gael Monfils pulled out due to injury.

"I came out of the qualifiers and I played my best tennis in my first three matches. Then playing Roger was the cherry on the cake," Goffin said.

"I won't hide the fact that I had photos of Roger everywhere on the walls of my bedroom. It was like a dream for me playing him here."

Goffin stunned Czech 23rd seed Radek Stepanek in the first round proper, then beat more experienced opposition in veteran Frenchman Arnaud Clement -- playing his home tournament for the last time -- and Poland's Lukasz Kubot.

He was the first lucky loser to reach the last 16 of a grand slam since compatriot Dick Norman did so at Wimbledon in 1995.

Part of complete coverage on
December 16, 2014 -- Updated 1208 GMT (2008 HKT)
Rafael Nadal of Spain watches the ball in his match against Martin Klizan of Slovakia during during day seven of the China Open at the National Tennis Center on October 3, 2014 in Beijing, China.
Rafael Nadal's body might be giving him a few problems, but his mind remains as strong as ever. Will the Spaniard add to his haul of 14 grand slam titles?
November 24, 2014 -- Updated 1342 GMT (2142 HKT)
A year that began in uncertainty for Roger Federer ended with a historic title for the 17-time grand slam champion and his country.
November 27, 2014 -- Updated 1716 GMT (0116 HKT)
The Scot has served up a few changes to his support team in 2014 but there's one person who isn't going anywhere -- his new fiancée Kim Sears.
September 11, 2014 -- Updated 1248 GMT (2048 HKT)
French Tennis player Rene Lacoste, one of France's 'Four Musketeers' who won the Davis Cup in 1932, at Wimbledon. He is wearing his embroidered crocodile motif. Original Publication: People Disc - HH0434 (Photo by Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)
His distinctive crocodile logo is seen on clothing all over the world, but Rene Lacoste also left a lasting legacy in the development of tennis.
September 9, 2014 -- Updated 0636 GMT (1436 HKT)
Marin Cilic follows in the footsteps of his coach Goran Ivanicevic by claiming a grand slam crown for Croatia, winning the U.S. Open.
September 14, 2014 -- Updated 1334 GMT (2134 HKT)
Serena Williams of the US holds the US Open trophy after defeating Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark during their US Open 2014 women's singles finals match at the USTA Billie Jean King National Center September 7, 2014 in New York. AFP PHOTO/Stan HONDA (Photo credit should read STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images)
Serena Williams is without peer in the modern women's game and now she is on a par with two American tennis legends from the past.
September 2, 2014 -- Updated 1321 GMT (2121 HKT)
American tennis player and golfer Althea Gibson (right) receives a kiss from compatriot Darlene Hard, whom she beat in two sets to become the first black woman to win the Women's Singles Finals at Wimbledon.
Over the course of her remarkable life, Althea Gibson was many things to many people -- but it was tennis where she really left her mark.
August 27, 2014 -- Updated 1145 GMT (1945 HKT)
Canada and tennis? Really? Yup. The North American tennis power balance is swinging away from the States.
August 21, 2014 -- Updated 1252 GMT (2052 HKT)
As a player he was as fiery as his hair -- and as Novak Djokovic's coach, Boris Becker says he has to battle to keep his emotions in check.
August 20, 2014 -- Updated 1102 GMT (1902 HKT)
Tennis great Boris Becker says he was stunned by the level of criticism he received after being appointed as Novak Djokovic's coach.
July 25, 2014 -- Updated 1101 GMT (1901 HKT)
"I didn't cry once when I practiced in front of the mirror," says Martin Emmrich. But the nerves kicked in when he got down on one knee on court.
June 30, 2014 -- Updated 1135 GMT (1935 HKT)
When Agnieszka Radwanska refused to look her opponent in the eye after losing at Wimbledon, it raised more than eyebrows.
June 23, 2014 -- Updated 0114 GMT (0914 HKT)
It's 10 years since a teenage Maria Sharapova became the darling of Wimbledon's hallowed Center Court, launching herself as a star.
May 23, 2014 -- Updated 0746 GMT (1546 HKT)
He's regularly voted France's favorite famous person, but many of the nation's youth have "no idea" about his glorious sporting past
April 29, 2014 -- Updated 1555 GMT (2355 HKT)
Five-time grand slam champion Martina Hingis has followed her mom into a coaching role, setting up a new tennis academy in Barcelona, Spain.