Federer recovers to reach 4th round

Roger Federer who was again taken to four sets but still advanced to the fourth round at Roland Garros by beating Paul-Henri Mathieu 4-6, 6-1, 6-4, 6-4.

updated: May 31, 2009 16:36 IST
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The swirling wind and bright sun did little to help Roger Federer on Saturday at the French Open.

When the conditions got better, though, so did Federer, who was again taken to four sets but still advanced to the fourth round at Roland Garros by beating Paul-Henri Mathieu of France 4-6, 6-1, 6-4, 6-4.

"It was difficult to see the ball, because everything was very bright behind the ball. So it was not easy, indeed," Federer said. "That's the reason why maybe the level of game was not so great in the beginning. But then at the end we started playing better, and I think the match was great."

Federer's forehand was working just fine, and he was even doing a decent job of sliding _ something he has improved over the past few seasons after losing to Rafael Nadal in the last three French Open finals.

"Sometimes it was slippery and sometimes it was less slippery, so you needed to be more cautious when you tried to slide," Federer said of the red clay on center court. "You need to be careful, and that made things more difficult."

Despite the early glitch, Federer said he was pleased with his game, hitting 14 aces and making only 29 unforced errors.

"I'm disappointed with nothing. I'm happy I won," Federer said. "I missed some opportunities in the first set and he played well. ... I was trying to put the ball in, but in that case it's difficult to win all the points. That's why he stayed into the match."

Mathieu had a chance to take control in the third set, but he failed to get the break he needed.

"Well, if I had been able to break in the third set, of course that would have led to a different match," Mathieu said. "But against this kind of player, you shouldn't miss any opportunity, and I had one opportunity in the third that I didn't manage to grasp."

While Federer was playing on center court, one his main rivals _ fourth-seeded Novak Djokovic _ was being eliminated from the tournament on Court No. 1. The two-time semifinalist lost to Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany 6-4, 6-4, 6-4.

Even though Federer is in the same half of the draw as Djokovic, the former No. 1 wasn't in the mood to celebrate the Serb's early demise.

"Winning the semifinal is not winning the tournament," said Federer, who needs only a title at Roland Garros to complete a career Grand Slam, "so it doesn't change anything."