MADRID – Roger Federer survived two match points against French maverick Gael Monfils to extend his claycourt comeback and reach the quarter-finals of the Madrid Open on Thursday.
The evergreen Swiss 37-year-old did not drop a game in a dominant first set, but was dragged into an intense battle by an inspired Monfils before prevailing 6-0 4-6 7-6(3).
World number three Federer, playing his first tournament on clay for three years as he prepares for the French Open, surrendered the initiative after his brisk start and was in deep trouble in the third set when he trailed 4-1.
Federer struggled with his timing on occasions in breezy, sunny conditions and swatted a ball angrily over the stands when he dropped serve at the start of the decider.
But he broke back in the seventh game with a stunning sliced backhand return.