Gael Monfils entered his quarterfinal against Roger Federer having won 12 straight sets, playing unusually focused and drama-free tennis. Under the lights of Arthur Ashe Stadium Thurday, the Frenchman added two more sets against the five-time US Open champion Federer.
That’s when the streak ended.
Federer roared back to seize the third set, but the Swiss was forced to fight off two match points on his serve in the fourth set to stay in the tournament.
With the electrifying win, Federer came back from two-sets-to-love down for the ninth time in his career to advance to his ninth US Open semifinal.
Monfils has long been a maddeningly mercurial character, but for two sets, Federer was flummoxed by the unpredictable nature of the Frenchman’s game. The orderly Swiss probed and tried to problem-solve but could not come up with a winning game plan in the windy conditions.
“When I was down two match points, that’s when I wasn’t feeling so great anymore,” said Federer. “I thought: ‘This is it. This is the last point, man. Just go down fighting, don’t miss an easy shot and let him have it.’”
“But I stayed in the match and somehow turned it around.”
Since his loss in the Wimbledon final, Federer has had a spectacular summer, winning 14 of 15 matches, including the ATP Masters 1000 event in Cincinnati. Through four rounds, the rejuvenated and reinvigorated Swiss has turned back the clock, finding vintage form with a new racquet, healthy back, and net-rushing under the tutelage of coach Stefan Edberg. Against Monfils, he found a winning tactic in his net prowess, winning 53 of 74 net approaches.
Federer now faces No. 14 seed Marin Cilic in the semifinal. Federer owns a commanding 5-0 career head to head record against the tall Croat.