Federer edges past Cilic as Djokovic glides into French Open third round
Roger Federer advanced to the third round of the French Open on centre court on Thursday with a tough four set win over Marin Cilic. As they battled top seed Novak Djokovic was making short work of Pablo Cuevas on the adjacent Court Suzanne Lenglen.
Federer, boasting nine victories in 10 matches with Cilic, cruised through the first set 6-2 in 30 minutes.
And the omens looked bleak for Cilic when Federer had a break point at the start of the second set after two consecutive double faults.
But the 32-year-old Croatian saved it with a cross court forehand winner and managed to hold on.
The loss appeared to launch Federer’s decline. The eighth seed dropped his own serve and Cilic held again to lead 3-0
At 3-1, the 39-year-old Swiss betrayed his tetchiness when given a time warning. He argued with the umpire for more than a minute as Cilic waited to serve.
Federer then squandered another opportunity to break Cilic’s serve and he surged on to capture the set 6-2.
The third set encapsulated Federer's woes and wonders.
He broke to lead 2-1 and had an easy forehand to go 4-1 up. He fluffed it and Cilic eventually came back to level at 3-3.
In the tiebreak, Federer served his 13th ace to lead 2-1 and Cilic's fifth double fault gave Federer the mini-break at 3-1.
At 5-4, a Cilic forehand into the net notched up two set points and Federer's 14th ace clinched it after 48 far from convincing minutes.
The fourth set was more of a stroll though. The 2009 champion surged into a 4-1 lead to take control. There was a modicum of resistance but Federer wrapped it up 6-2 to claim the tie after two hours and 34 minutes.
"I'm happy to have played at a good level against Marin for more than two hours," said Federer. "Marin forces you back with the power of his hits and it was difficult to defend."
Djokovic continued his hunt for a 19th major with a clinical straight sets destruction of Cuevas. It finished 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 to the Serb.
There were wins too for the ninth seed Matteo Berrettini and his Italian compatriot Jannik Sinner.
However, the partisans lost one of their favourites. The 14th seed Gael Monfils went down in four sets to Mikael Ymer from Sweden.
The 22-year-old, ranked 105th in the world, ousted the 34-year-old Frenchman 6-0, 2-6, 6-4, 6-3 to become the first man from Sweden to reach the third round since Robin Soderling in 2011.
"I'm the first one to be frustrated," said Monfils. "I'm so disappointed that I couldn't find the solution to press home my advantage and play a little better. I hope my confidence will come back but I made a lot of bad choices, a lot of mistakes."
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