PARIS – In what seemed like a flash, and in what surely felt like a flash of pain for his opponent, Roger Federer went from vulnerable to commanding.
It was that quick.
Federer lost a second-set tiebreaker Friday to Dmitry Tursunov, and that surely did not bode well for the 17-time Grand Slam champion. Then Tursunov felt a split second of discomfort in his left hip.
And that was it.
Federer was back on track at the French Open, on his way to a 7-5, 6-7 (7-9), 6-2, 6-4 victory and into the second week of a major tournament yet again.
“Everything that was out of his control, like moving defense, that’s when it got difficult,” said Federer, who advanced to the fourth round at Roland Garros for the 10th straight year. “Clearly, on the clay, it’s difficult to hit three great shots in a row. So I tried to extend the rallies, but serve nice and stay aggressive throughout. And I think that was a bit too much for his hip, or whatever it was.”
It was something of an escape for Federer, who lost a set for the first time at this year’s tournament. Then again, Novak Djokovic also lost a set Friday before advancing with a 6-3, 6-2, 6-7 (2-7), 6-4 win over Marin Cilic.
With eight-time champion Rafael Nadal and 2013 finalist David Ferrer each perfect through two matches, the pressure is on the others to keep their level high.
“It wasn’t easy because once you start being passive, you lose kind of the confidence to step in,” Djokovic said of his win. “That’s what happened maybe in the end of the third and a little bit of the fourth.”
Of course, that’s nothing compared to the women’s tournament, where third-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska followed defending champion Serena Williams and Li Na out of the tournament.
That leaves Simona Halep, who plays Saturday, as the highest-seeded player in the draw at No. 4. It also leaves 2012 French Open champion Maria Sharapova as the favorite after her 6-0, 6-0 rout of Paula Ormaechea Friday.
The woman who beat Williams, Garbine Muguruza of Spain, also advanced to the fourth round.