Argentina's Juan Martin del Potro put up a valiant effort against Roger Federer in the French Open quarterfinals, but he was unable to stop the Swiss great from rallying for a 3-6, 6-7 (4-7), 6-2, 6-0, 6-3 victory.
Del Potro dominated in the early going of Tuesday's match, when the sun made a brief appearance on an otherwise cold and damp day, using powerful blasts from the baseline to break the 2009 champion's serve on three occasions.
The Argentine, whose left knee once again was heavily wrapped, continued to heap on the pressure under gloomy conditions in the second set, grabbing a seemingly insurmountable advantage with the help of 135-mile-per-hour serves and more crushing forehands.
But a momentum shift occurred at the start of the third set, with the world No. 3 raising his game to a level Del Potro was unable to match.
Although the Argentine's movement appeared to be hampered by his knee ailment, he refused to use that as an excuse for Federer's comeback.
"It's my serve. I didn't serve well, and this is why I lost intensity in my game. Let me say that again: Federer played much better. I had to make efforts to serve better, and he did everything so that my serve was not as good as I wanted it to be and I couldn't take my chances," the world No. 9 said in the post-match interview.
"I had opportunities. I missed them; when he had opportunities he won, and that made the difference."
In other action Tuesday, world No. 1 Novak Djokovic of Serbia saved four match points in a dramatic 6-1, 5-7, 5-7, 7-6 (8-6), 6-1 victory over France's Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, the No. 5 seed, that left the home crowd heartbroken.
Federer and Djokovic will square off Friday in a rematch of last year's French Open semifinal, when the Swiss ended his opponent's incredible, undefeated run at the start of the 2011 season.
Since that loss, Djokovic has won the last three Grand Slam tournaments - Wimbledon, the U.S. Open and the Australian Open - and is trying to become the first men's player in more than 40 years to hold all four major titles simultaneously.
On Wednesday, world No. 2 and defending champion Rafael Nadal, who despite Djokovic's recent dominance is considered the heavy favorite to capture a record seventh Roland Garros title, will play fellow Spaniard Nicolas Almagro.
Spanish world No. 6 David Ferrer, meanwhile, will be pitted against fourth-ranked Andy Murray of Scotland. EFE