Roger Federer matched John McEnroe's record streak of 11
straight-set wins in grand slam matches by beating Mikhail Youzhny
7-6, 6-4, 6-4 yesterday to reach the French Open quarterfinals.
World No 1 Federer, whose run dates back to the first round of
this year's Australian Open, equals the best mark in the Open era
set by McEnroe in 1984 from the second round at Wimbledon through
to the US Open quarterfinals.
Top seed Federer, chasing victory in the only grand slam
tournament to elude him so far, turned on the style after a
sluggish start to extend to 10-0 his perfect record against
Russia's Youzhny, seeded 13th here.
The 25-year-old Swiss, bidding to become the third man after Don
Budge and Rod Laver to hold all four grand slam titles at the same
time, next meets Spaniard Tommy Robredo, seeded ninth.
"He's an excellent player, I knew that," Federer said of
Youzhny, who kept fighting, saving two match points before bowing
"He's dangerous on every surface, he moves well, and I knew I
had to be careful. He challenged me at first and I had to stay calm
and react, which I did. I'm pleased with my match."
Youzhny underlined his determination by breaking Federer
straight away and matching his prestigious opponent throughout a
tight first set.
Federer broke back to level the set at 3-3 and both players held
serve until a tiebreak, which Youzhny lost 7-3, firing a backhand
long on set point.
The Swiss, who had made uncharacteristic errors in the first
set, stepped up a gear in the second, capturing Youzhny's serve
early on and staying on top until wrapping it up.
In women's action, top seed and title-holder Justine Henin and
top challenger Serena Williams set up a French Open quarterfinals
showdown when both easily won their fourth round ties.
Henin, apart from a brief second set blip, was in total command
as she brushed aside Sybille Bammer of Austria 6-2, 6-4 for her
18th straight win at Roland Garros.
Williams, seeking a second Paris title five years after her
first, underlined her threat by blasting past Russia's Dinara
Safina 6-2, 6-3.
The two last played here in the 2003 semifinals when Henin won a
superb but controversial three-setter that saw Williams leave the
court in tears as the Paris crowd backed the underdog Belgian.
"Justine is really good here. Usually I don't have to peak too
soon but this will be different," Williams said. "But I am playing
the clay court game really good.
"I don't want to reflect on what happened in 2003 any more. This
is a new year and we are both different people. I have matured and
if the crowd gets involved I can just zone out."
Henin agreed that 2003 was best consigned to the past as far as
this year's tournament goes.
"What happened in 2003 was one of the best memories of my career
and I will never forget that moment," she said.
"But it's four years ago now and a lot of things have happened
and we've grown up a lot.
"Everyone sees me as the favourite, but I disagree with that. We
will all eight be favourites.".
All 16 remaining women were scheduled to play during the day
with the quarterfinal line-up set to be decided.
First through minutes before Williams sealed victory was
18-year-old Czech prodigy Nicole Vaidisova who reached the last
eight for a second straight year with a comprehensive 6-3, 6-1 win
over Italy's Tathiana Garbin.
Last year's losing finalist Svetlana Kuznetsova followed with an
impressive 6-4, 6-3 win over Israeli Shahar Peer, a player she had
lost to twice already this year, notably at the same stage in the
Two Serbs made it through to the last eight in the shape of Ana
Ivanovic and Jelena Jankovic.
(China Daily via Agencies and AFP June 4, 2007)