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Published:May 28th, 2009 18:41 EST
2009 French Open

Federer Claws Back to Earn Third Round Honors

By Christopher HIllenbrand

Roger Federer persevered in a rigorous match that may have gone to five sets had Federer not pulled out all the stops when he was down 5-1 to Jose Acasuso in the third set on Thursday. But the world number two managed to claw his way back up in the set: winning five straight games and forcing the match into a tiebreaker, which he won and followed with a 6-2 run in the fourth to defeat the 45th seed from Argentina 7-6 (8), 5-7, 7-6 (2), 6-2.

Roger Federer

And the 13-time Grand Slam winner didn`t seem at his best on what he considers his weakest court. He lost seven straight games between the end of the second set and the start of the third, before he regained his excellence by rattling off five successive games going in his favor. The Swiss finished the first crucial tiebreaker by saving four set points.

Jose Acasuso

"Of course, I`m thrilled to be through," he said. "It was sort of a fun match to be part of with so many ups and downs. Mentally I`ve always been very strong, but I`m not being put in a position like this very often. So it was good to win both breakers."

The last time Federer bowed out before the semifinals was the 2004 French Open, when he was defeated in the third round by former number one player and three-time Roland Garros winner Gustavo Kuerten.

If the Argentine triumphed, Federer`s 19 straight Grand Slam semifinal appearance streak would`ve come to an end.

Federer has won Wimbledon five times, the U.S. Open five times and the Australian Open three times. He only needs a French Open title to have a career Grand Slam, but like the past three years in which he`s made it to the French Open finals, he will come across stiff competition from claycourt specialists including Rafael Nadal, who is widely regarded as one of the greatest claycourt players of all time.

Nadal has won the French Open title four years in a row, and he will bidding for his fifth which would crown him the record holder for the most consecutive Roland Garros championships by a men`s player.

Also on Thursday, fifth ranked Argentine Juan Martin del Potro advanced to the third round after defeating Serbia`s Viktor Troicki 6-3, 7-5, 6-0. World number 10 Nikolay Davydenko from Russia also moved on after beating Argentina`s Diego Jungueira 4-6, 6-3, 6-0, 6-2. France`s Jo-Wilfried Tsonga went on to the final 32 once he finished the four set clash against Juan Monaco 5-7, 6-2, 1-6, 6-7 (8/10).