It wasn't exactly plain sailing for neither Roger Federer nor Britain's Andy Murray at the French Open today, but both men are safely through to the quarter-finals. Their respective victories over French opposition both required four sets before they could be decided, as Gael Monfils and Jeremy Chardy bowed out of the event after rousing the mainly partisan crowd. The home fans do still have Jo-Wilfried Tsonga to cheer on though, after he defeated Tomas Berdych on Sunday.
There seems to be something about playing in front of your home crowd that seems to bring out the best in many sportspeople. So it was once more in the last-16 ties at Roland Garros for Tsonga (especially) but also for his compatriots Monfils and Chardy, both high class singles players in their own right. With Britain's Davis Cup contest against France to come at Queen's, the selection of their singles players will be intriguing, but that is a consideration for another time.
Tsonga was first into the action on Sunday in his eagerly anticipated encounter with the fourth-seeded Czech player Berdych. The Frenchman is no longer a top ten player himself, but has reached the dizzy heights of fifth in the world in the past. He is always a dangerous customer when his game clicks into top gear and was a semi-finalist at the French as recently as 2013.
Willed on by the vociferous crowd in Paris, he stormed through the first two sets. Berdych seemed to be fighting back when he took the third set on a tie-break, but could not withstand the pressure from his opponent in the fourth set, as Tsonga delighted the crowd to win 6-3 6-2 6-7 6-3.
Murray keeps his nerve
Murray also had to contend with Chardy's home support today and had his own followers biting their finger nails in the third set. The rivals had shared the opening two sets, but it was Chardy who looked to have the ascendency in the third, with a break. The Brit fought back to take the set though and stormed through the fourth to claim a fifth career quarter-final place in France. His 6-4 3-6 6-3 6-2 success lasted nine minutes short of three hours.
Facing Murray in the last-eight will be the obdurate Spaniard David Ferrer, who made light work of Marin Cilic in his last-16 clash with the 9th seed.
Little joy for Monfils
Federer also continued his mainly serene progress in France, as he eventually eased past Monfils in four sets. The 33-year-old was extended in the middle of the match, losing the second set, before taking control to come through 6-3 4-6 6-4 6-1.
The match had been suspended on Sunday due to bad light, with the scores level at one set apiece, and Monfils could not regain his earlier momentum today. Federer will renew familiar hostilities with his Swiss counterpart, Stan Wawrinka in the quarter-finals. #Tennis