The Spaniard stuns Almagro after trailing by two sets; Tsonga sails past Troicki

Clay court warrior Tommy Robredo came back from the brink yet again to beat fellow Spaniard Nicolas Almagro and reach the quarterfinals of the French Open on Sunday.

The 31-year-old Robredo looked down and out when he trailed by two sets and 4-1 on Suzanne Lenglen Court but produced a stunning fightback to outlast the 11th seed 6-7(5), 3-6, 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 after a three-hour 49-minute baseline battle.

Hat-trick

Robredo, whose career seemed in doubt last year when he missed five months due to leg surgery and dropped to 471 in the world rankings, was overcome with emotion at the end after a third successive victory from a two-set deficit.

Almagro edged a tough first set and his greater power looked set to give him his sixth win out of six against the former World No. 5 and four-time French Open quarterfinalist.

Robredo, who saved four match points against local favourite Gael Monfils in the previous round, had not won a set off Almagro since their first meeting in 2007, but with nothing to lose he began to take greater risks.

His single-handed backhand, one of the most eye-catching in the game, began to find its range and suddenly it was Almagro who was being stretched in the baseline rallies.

Having levelled the match at two sets all, Robredo fell a break behind in the decider but he produced one final fightback to seal a memorable victory when Almagro netted a backhand volley.

Robredo faces more hard graft in the quarterfinals where he will play compatriot David Ferrer. The latter has made serene progress into the quarterfinals.

Fans had barely filed into a sun-soaked Suzanne Lenglen Court by the time the fourth seed was back in the locker room following a 6-3, 6-1, 6-1 demolition of South Africa’s Kevin Anderson.

Unsurprisingly, rather than being asked about his achievement or goals for the tournament, Ferrer was quizzed about the trials faced by Rafael Nadal this week.

“For me, Rafa’s the favourite to win Roland Garros. He’s the best on clay court,” said Ferrer.

Cruising home

French sixth seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga easily dispatched Serbian Viktor Troicki 6-3, 6-3, 6-3 to book his place in the quarterfinals.

Tsonga, the last Frenchman to reach a Grand Slam final — at the 2008 Australian Open — has yet to drop a set at Roland Garros this year and sealed a straightforward win in one hour 45 minutes.

On a windswept Philippe Chatrier, after dark clouds had eaten away the last bit of morning sun, Tsonga whizzed through the first set.

World No. 57 Troicki upped the tempo in the second set but cracked in the seventh game when Tsonga caught him off guard with a flicked lob which the Serbian returned into the net.

Tsonga broke decisively in the sixth game of the third set with one of his 17 forehand winners and wrapped it up on his third match point before doing his trademark victory swirl on court.

They are both Grand Slam winners, they are both ranked No. 1 and they are both 30-something yet that is where the similarities ended as Serena Williams left Roberta Vinci red-faced.

As the reigning doubles champion at Roland Garros, Vinci arrived for the fourth-round showdown knowing that she had the game to hurt Serena on red dirt.

Yet, it was the 30-year-old Italian who was left aching all over as she was given the runaround for 70 agony-filled minutes before the American ended the ordeal with a 6-1, 6-3 win.

Big challenge

Waiting for her in the last eight will be another player eager to derail Serena’s pursuit of a 16th Grand Slam title, 2009 champion Svetlana Kuznetsova.

That may well turn out to be Serena’s first test of her title credentials as the 31-year-old American has dropped just 10 games in four matches in Paris.

“The last time we played here she (Kuznetsova) won, so that will probably get her pumped up. She has nothing to lose but everything to gain,” said Serena. “It will be a good job for me to see how I go there.” Like Nadal, Kuznetsova missed the second half of the 2012 season with a knee injury and she warmed up for the challenging task ahead with a 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 win over German eighth seed Angelique Kerber.

Kuznetsova beat Serena en route to the title four years ago but is under no illusion about what it will take to beat a player who is on a 28-match winning streak.

“She’s been playing unbelievable tennis,” summed up the Russian. “But I believe that I have the game to do well.”

Sania-Bethanie pair advances

Sania Mirza and her partner Bethanie Mattek-Sands progressed to the second round of the women’s doubles with a straight set win over local pair of Alize Cornet and Virginie Razzano.

The seventh-seeded Indo-American pair recorded a 6-3, 6-4 win in one hour and 28 minutes in the opening round.


Simon stretches Federer

Roger Federer advanced to the quarterfinals with a hard-earned 6-1, 4-6, 2-6, 6-2, 6-3 win over Gilles Simon. The fourth-round win was the Swiss’s 900th tour victory.

The second-seeded Federer will tackle sixth seed Jo- Wilfried Tsonga for a place in the semifinals.

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