“You think, okay, I’m nervous. I don’t know why. You can’t sleep well, even though before it wasn’t a problem. But you don’t manage to eat well, you feel a bit dizzy, and you don’t know exactly why. You know, there are days like that on the tour. That happens.”
It’s nice to hear I wasn’t the only one tossing and turning last night! Both Roger and I made a mountain out of what turned out to be a molehill of a match. Roger Federer beat Gaël Monfils in straights today in the Roland Garros quarterfinals: 7‑6, 6‑2, 6‑4.
Roger talked a lot about nerves in his post match presser, admitting to feeling the pressure of the occassion and the potential danger of his French opponent:
“We’re all nervous at this stage of the competition. I felt it. Yesterday I felt it, and I felt it again today in the warm-up, when I warmed up before the match. I was tired, I was nervous, and I didn’t feel really good. Then once out on court, you know, I get my act together with the experience. You know, I think things will be alright.”
That’s Roger saying it, not me, so it doesn’t constitute a jinx.
There was much debate over how the crazy Parisian fans would treat Roger against their own. GTT commenter, “Whynotme,” commented today that the French media was nterviewing spectators about who they planned to support. And in the battle of heart vs. homeland, the heart eventually won out. Even Monfils held Roger close at the end of the match, whispering sweet nothings over the net.
The favorite was loved like an underdog, the Swiss cheered like a compatriot, the Champion treated with respect.
Roger admits that all of Paris has turned Fedophile:
Q. It looks as if Gaël Monfils had some very warm words for you at the end of the match. Do you get the sense a lot of people are pulling for you this week, that they’d love to see you finally do it on Sunday?
ROGER FEDERER: “Yeah, I mean, I feel it since a few years now, to be honest with you. But this year even more extreme. When I walk on the streets or drive in the transportation or I go for dinner, everybody is like, ‘This is your year. You’ve got to do it.’
They’re screaming from their scooters and out of the car. They even get out at the red lights and want me to sign an autograph or take a picture. It’s quite incredible this last couple of weeks.
It just shows me that everybody is watching the French Open here, and it’s great to get the support. You know, once out in the stadium it’s amazing. I mean, we don’t have a grand Slam in Switzerland, but I definitely feel at home in the Grand Slams, and especially here.”
This victory brings Roger to the brink of the finals, and upholds his “incredible” all-time record of 20 consecutive Major semi final appearances. Federer called this seemingly unbreakable record the one he’s most proud of in his career.
Roger will face Juan Martin del Potro in his fifth straight semifinal excursion at Roland Garros, after the Argentine scored a straight-forward three set win over Tommy Robredo in the day’s other quarter final match. Despite his 5-0 record against the Argentine, Federer says he’s not taking anything (except maybe the crowd support) for granted:
“I expect a very difficult match against Juan Martin. I have a lot of respect for him. Yeah, I have a good record against him, but it doesn’t mean a thing right now because it’s too big of a match, too dangerous, and he’s playing too well at this tournament to underestimate him.”
Of course, no one should underestimate Roger Federer, either.