Federer's night time labours edge him past Koepfer and into French Open last 16
Roger Federer advanced to the last 16 at the French Open just before 1am on Sunday morning after a hard-fought four set win over Dominik Koepfer.
Federer, playing in his first 9pm night session at the tournament, edged the first set tiebreaker seven points to five and broke to lead 2-0 at the start of the second.
But rather than surging on, he allowed the 27-year-old to haul him back to 2-2 on centre court.
The 39-year-old Swiss broke for 3-2 and lost his serve for 3-3. It went to a tiebreak again and this time Koepfer sensed the eighth seed's champion's fragility.
Federer's 17th forehand error gave the unseeded German four set points and he levelled at one set apiece when a Federer backhand flew out.
Koepfer broke early in the third and held serve solidly. But serving for a 5-3 lead he coughed up two break points and out of nowhere, Federer was back in business at 4-4.
It was quickly 5-4 to Federer and from apparent dominance, Koepfer was serving to stay in the set.
He held impressively to bring it to 5-5. And saved a set point when trying to level at 6-6.
Federer edged the third set tiebreak and broke early in the fourth. But he threw that advantage away.
He eventually fashioned two break points and broke to lead 6-5 when a scrambling Koepfer sent a forehand long.
After nearly three and a half hours, Federer serving out for victory was no certainty. But he gritted his way through.
"I felt OK on the court," said Federer. "But he posed lots of problems and I'm glad I found the solutions."
In the last 16, the ninth seed Matteo Berrettini is likely to cause even more problems. And be less munificent.
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