PARIS – Everything appeared to be under control for Roger Federer, just like in the old days at Grand Slam tournaments.
And then, suddenly, it wasn’t.
One point from a two-set lead Sunday in the French Open’s fourth round against 18th-seeded Ernests Gulbis of Latvia, Federer settled under a floating ball and prepared for what should have been a simple putaway. Except, suddenly, it wasn’t. Federer sent a meek overhead toward Gulbis, who took advantage of the gaffe, ripping a backhand winner.
That was part of a four-point run that let Gulbis break serve and get very much back into the match, which he wound up winning 6-7 (5), 7-6 (3), 6-2, 4-6, 6-3 to end Federer’s streak of nine consecutive quarterfinals at Roland Garros.
“A lot of regrets,” Federer said. “I just couldn’t kind of figure it out.”
It also served as the latest reminder that Federer, now 32 and a father of four, is no longer the nearly infallible force who made it to the closing days of major after major.
“He’s Roger Federer,” Gulbis said, “but he also gets tight.”
Didn’t used to be the case. Federer, a 17-time Grand Slam champion, had not left Roland Garros so soon since 2004, when he was beaten in the third round by Gustavo Kuerten.
After that decade-old setback, though, Federer was a quarterfinalist at a record 36 consecutive major tournaments, a streak that ended with a second-round loss at Wimbledon last year. Federer also put together record Slam runs of 10 finals and 23 semifinals in a row.
Now he’s bowed out before the quarterfinals at three of the last four majors.
Maria Sharapova engineered quite a turnaround to reach the quarterfinals, taking the last nine games and beating Samantha Stosur 3-6, 6-4, 6-0.
After dropping the first set, Sharapova trailed 4-3 in the second. But she didn’t allow Stosur another game, reeling off 22 of 25 points to take control.
The seventh-seeded Sharapova reached the final at Roland Garros the last two years, winning the title to complete a career Grand Slam in 2012, then finishing as the runner-up to Serena Williams in 2013.
Sharapova got off to a rough start against the 19th-seeded Stosur, who won the 2011 U.S. Open and got to the final at the 2010 French Open.
Screaming and shaking her fists after many points, Sharapova righted herself and improved to 14-2 against Stosur.
Andy Murray found his second wind to finally get the better of Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany, needing 40 minutes to complete a 3-6, 6-3, 6-3, 4-6, 12-10 win and reach the fourth round.
The match between Wimbledon champion Murray and the 28th-seeded Kohlschreiber was suspended because of fading light Saturday.
“I was cramping yesterday. My muscles were obviously fatigued,” Murray said. “I actually woke up (feeling) OK. … The nice thing about this surface, compared with the hardcourt, is when you have a tough match on the hardcourts you wake up the next day and your hips are sore, your knees are sore.”
Kohlschreiber missed a chance to break Murray in the 19th game of the decider.
“He came up with some great shots when he was behind in games today,” Murray said.
“I thought both of us served a little bit better. It was a good finish to the match.”