Gael Monfils became the first Frenchman to reach the Paris Open semi-final since 2001, as he defeated Spain's fifth seed David Ferrer in four sets. He now faces top seed Roger Federer, who dispatched Fernando Gonzales.
AFP - Gael Monfils became the first Frenchman in seven years to reach the Roland Garros semi-finals when he flamboyantly dismissed Spanish fifth seed David Ferrer 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 6-1 on Wednesday.
The 21-year-old world number 59, whose form was so poor in the run-up to the French Open that he was forced to play a second-tier Challenger in Morocco, will now tackle top seed Roger Federer for a place in Sunday's final.
Monfils had never got beyond the fourth round of any Grand Slam before this year, but his win on Wednesday has now ignited hopes of a homegrown men's title, 25 years after Yannick Noah's emotional triumph.
"I ran well on court and I wanted to take the ball early. I played great tennis today," said Monfils.
"I prepared really well. I tried to stay concentrated and with my family and the crowd behind me, I felt very strong."
Ferrer had played two marathon five-setters to dispose of Lleyton Hewitt and Radek Stepanek in his last two rounds and Monfils started the fresher breaking the Spaniard in the first game.
He repeated the dose in the ninth to take the first set and it was reward for his ambitious, attacking style which saw him unleash three times as many winners as his opponent.
But Ferrer, whose best previous Grand Slam performance was a run to the 2007 US Open semi-finals, levelled the tie on the back of two breaks in the seventh and ninth games of the second set.
Monfils appeared to wilt under the barrage of gruelling, brutal hitting but, backed by a wave of patriotic support on a packed Court Philippe Chatrier, he conjured up a break in the first set of the third set.
The 21-year-old Frenchman then opened up a two sets to one lead when Ferrer, never comfortable away from the baseline, could only find the net with a volley which he tried to scoop awkwardly off his toes in the ninth game.
Ferrer's challenge seeped away in the fourth set.
Monfils, the 2004 junior champion, raced into a 4-0 lead and wrapped up the biggest win of his career when Ferrer netted a weary return.
Date created : 2008-06-04