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French Open Day Nine Images

June 2, 2009 11:11 IST

Cirstea hopes school notices she is not bunking off

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Reaching the French Open quarter-finals has given Romanian teenager Sorana Cirstea the perfect alibi if her high school thinks she is playing truant.

"Now they can see me on TV. They know I'm not somewhere else," she said after beating Serbian fifth seed Jelena Jankovic 3-6, 6-0, 9-7 on Monday.

Cirstea, whose final exams are before the U.S. Open which starts in August, has taken a break from revising while she has been in Paris.

"Honestly I haven't been studying this week. I think I was just trying to focus on Roland Garros," said the 19-year-old, who was watched in the stands by Romanian former French Open champion Ilie Nastase.

"I can study after I finish the tournament again."

Cirstea, the youngest player left in the draw, plays Australian 30th seed Samantha Stosur for a semi-final place.


Image: Sorana Cirstea
Photographs: Reuters
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Beaten Jankovic given lesson

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Serbian fifth seed Jelena Jankovic learnt some harsh lessons on Monday after Romanian high school student Sorana Cirstea beat her in the fourth round.

Jankovic, who had reached the Roland Garros semi-finals for the past two years, blamed a lack of confidence for allowing herself to be outfoxed by the 19-year-old's devastating net play.

The Serbian former world number one served for the match in the 11th game of the third set and was two points away from victory but the tenacious world number 41 broke when Jankovic hit long.

"I should've closed the match out at 6-5. I had 30-0, what more can I ask for myself?" she told a news conference. "I should have gone for more and I should have risked. But I didn't do that and it cost me the match.

"I need my confidence back. I need to go for my shots, I need to have that belief that they're going to go in."

Jankovic, who said her confidence had been hit by a shaky start to the year in which she lost the number one ranking, stormed through the first three games before being broken in the seventh.

She immediately broke back and claimed the set when Cirstea hit long. She never got into the second set as Cirstea made regular charges to the net to send a series of winners past her.


Image: Jelena Jankovic
Photographs: Reuters
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Federer avoids following Nadal out of Paris

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Roger Federer roared and 15,000 fans hollered as the Swiss clung on by his fingertips to his French Open dreams on Monday and avoided joining Rafael Nadal on the Roland Garros scrapheap.

With the claycourt major still reeling from the shock exit of four-times champion Rafael Nadal just 24 hours earlier, Federer was on the brink of the same fate before finding the strength to bury German Tommy Haas 6-7, 5-7, 6-4, 6-0, 6-2.

When Haas swiped a service return wide after three hours and seven minutes of nerve-shredding action, Federer leapt high and let out an almighty roar to mark the moment he had booked a quarter-final with Monfils.

Only 70 minutes earlier, it had looked like the Swiss would suffer his earliest grand slam loss since 2004 when he came within five points of defeat.

At two sets and 3-4 down facing a break point, Federer conjured up a screaming forehand winner to bring the scores back to deuce. Federer earned his get-out-of-jail-free card two points later when Haas dragged a forehand long.

"When I hit that forehand to save a break point at 3-4 in the third, I had the feeling it could be a turning point in the match," said Federer, who has reached the semi-finals or better in the last 19 grand slam events.

"I thought almost that it was my first good shot of the match. I knew the significance of that shot.

"That saved me on that day and I was able to turn around the whole match. It's a great feeling, because I was in quite some danger right there."

From then on, Federer won eight successive games and his charge towards a record-equalling 14th grand slam title was safe -- at least for another two days.

"When you're that close to winning, it hurts," said Haas.

"There's no secret to why he's been there the last five years and so you just got to tip your hat and say, 'That's why he's Roger Federer'."

Federer will be hoping to avoid any further anxious moments as he is favourite to win an elusive Paris title after the departures of Nadal and in-form Serbian fourth seed Djokovic.

Having had to come back from two sets down for only the fifth time in his career, Federer did not want to buy into the hype that it was his year to win the title.

"People make it sound so simple ... (but) you come out and you always have guys going after you, like Haas today," said Federer.


Image: Roger Federer
Photographs: Reuters
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Roddick's hopes go up in smoke

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American sixth seed Andy Roddick slammed his racket, complained about the fading light and stormed off court in anger after his hopes of a first Paris quarter-final were dashed 6-4, 6-2, 6-3 by Frenchman Gael Monfils as dusk set in.

Monfils watched Roddick squirm for almost two hours before he put the American sixth seed out of his misery on Monday to become the only Frenchman to reach the Roland Garros quarter-finals.

Monfils was left as the only player carrying the French flag into the last eight after Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Virginie Razzano were eliminated on Monday.

Tsonga, the ninth seed, was clueless against Argentine fifth seed Juan Martin Del Potro, losing 6-1, 6-7, 6-1, 6-4, while Virginie Razzano was dismantled 6-1, 6-2 by Australian Samantha Stosur.

Aravane Rezai had been demolished 6-1, 6-0 by world number one Dinara Safina on Sunday.

Monfils, seeded 11th, will now be gunning for revenge when he takes on Roger Federer as last year the Swiss prevented him from becoming the first Frenchman to reach the final since Henri Leconte in 1988.

Federer beat Monfils in four sets in the semi-finals.

Monfils, who almost pulled out of the tournament because of a knee injury, treated the Suzanne Lenglen Court crowd with lobs, drop shots and stunt-man style diving as Roddick progressively lost his nerve.

At 5-2 in the second set, Roddick complained about the fading light as dusk fell over Paris.

"Don't tell me what's okay, I'm the one playing. When we started what did the sky look like? Now look up in the sky and tell me what's changed," an angry Roddick challenged the umpire.

After Monfils saved three break points and clinched the set, the 2003 U.S. Open champion said: "I'm having trouble seeing the ball."

The players were asked to continue the match and the pumped up Frenchman urged the partisan crowd to cheer him on after almost every point.

He clinched victory on Roddick's serve when the American netted a volley.

"It is fantastic, it is a great moment," said Monfils, who was looking forward to a second Roland Garros meeting with world number two Federer.

"There is a feeling of deja vu. With such a crowd behind me, I hope to shine even more.

"My ambition is to win the next match. I want to go step by step. I now need to recuperate."


Image: Andy Roddick
Photographs: Reuters
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Kuznetsova glad of test after easy matches

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Seventh seed Svetlana Kuznetsova was glad to finally face a stiff test after too many easy matches when she beat Pole Agnieszka Radwanska 6-4, 1-6, 6-1 to reach the French Open quarter-finals on Monday.

The former U.S. Open champion, who had lost only 11 games at these championships until this match, will take on world number two Serena Williams for a place in the last four.

"(My) other matches were too easy and sometimes it's not too good. Today I was a little bit tested," the Russian told a news conference.

"It's also good in this stage of tournament. But in the next matches, I cannot allow myself to do this. I really understand that. I just have to be more prepared."

Kuznetsova clinched the first set when Radwanska clipped the Russian's delivery with her outstretched racket but could not return it.

The second set was a different story as the 12th seeded Pole whizzed through it, hitting a beautiful lob that Kuznetsova could only watch sail over her and making the most of the Russian's temporary lapse in concentration.

Kuznetsova, a steely glint in her eyes, reverted in the third to the lethal topspin forehands that featured prominently in her other matches and a shell-shocked Radwanska surrendered with a mishit service return after one hour 42 minutes.

The Russian, who trails her next opponent Williams 5-1 in head-to-heads, said the 2002 champion would be the favourite to win even if clay was not her best surface.


Image: Svetlana Kuznetsova
Photographs: Reuters
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