- French Open - Gaël Monfils - Paris - Roger Federer - tennis
AFP - Roger Federer reached his 20th consecutive Grand Slam semi-final on Wednesday with a 7-6 (8/6), 6-2, 6-4 win over France's Gael Monfils to close in on a first French Open title and a record-equalling 14th major.
World number two Federer, the tournament favourite after the shock defeat of four-time winner Rafael Nadal, as well as the exits of Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic, will face either Juan Martin del Potro or Tommy Robredo for a place in what would be a fourth successive Roland Garros final.
A final victory on Sunday would make the Swiss only the sixth man in history to complete a career Grand Slam and take him level with Pete Sampras's record of 14 majors.
Defeat for Monfils ended, for another year, hopes of a first French men's champion at Roland Garros since Yannick Noah in 1983.
In a tense opening set, Federer demonstrated the pressure he is under to finally deliver a French Open title when he engaged in an uncharacteristic and lengthy dispute with chair umpire Mohamed Lahyani over a line call.
He then saved a set point in the tie-break before clinching the opener with a crisp forehand volley, a huge relief for a man who was forced to battle back from two sets down to beat Tommy Haas in the last 16.
Monfils hadn't played for a month in the run-up to Roland Garros because of a badly-inflamed knee, and having seen his first set opportunity slip from his hands, he was quickly two breaks down to trail 4-0 in the second.
The 11th-seeded Frenchman, who had been defeated by Federer in the quarter-finals here last year, stopped the rot with a service hold in the fifth game.
But the 27-year-old Federer wrapped up the set when Monfils, five years younger, buried a weary forehand return into the net as the steamy Paris afternoon began to take its toll.
Monfils twice called the trainer onto court in the third set, but Federer wasn't to be denied.
The Swiss broke to lead 5-4 when Monfils ran round on a forehand, only to drive the ball into the net.
Federer then went to three match points and took the tie with a smooth, down-the-line backhand winner.