Federer survives Goffin scare
Roger Federer will know David Goffin for more than simply being his idol after the Belgian lucky loser gave him a tough French Open workout.
The 21-year-old, the first lucky loser to reach the fourth-round stage of a grand slam for 17 years, looked capable of causing a huge upset for nearly two sets before eventually going down 5-7 7-5 6-2 6-4 on Sunday.
Federer has now dropped sets in three successive matches and was again below his best, but he was good enough to extend his record of consecutive slam quarter-finals reached to 32.
When Goffin, who admitted after winning his previous match that he had had pictures of Federer on his bedroom wall as a child, was beating Josh Goodall in Belgium's Davis Cup victory over Great Britain in April, he looked a promising talent for the future.
That future came rather quicker than anyone imagined - including, presumably, Goffin, who lost in the final round of qualifying to Joao Sousa before being given a reprieve when Gael Monfils pulled out injured.
From there he has blossomed, beating Radek Stepanek, Arnaud Clement and Lukas Kubot in his first main draw appearance at a slam, and for a good while here it looked like he could do the unthinkable and defeat Federer.
Goffin showed no nerves on the biggest stage of his career and was clearly the better player in the first set.
It looked like the 21-year-old might have blown his chance when he missed three chances to break in the sixth game, but he took his chance spectacularly with Federer serving to stay in the set.
Twice the 30-year-old held on but a third opportunity came and Goffin nailed a forehand winner down the line.
The baby-faced Belgian continued to play at an extremely high level in the second set, and when Federer slumped to 15-30 at 4-5, Goffin was two points from a two-set lead.
For the first time the occasion seemed to get the better of him as he dumped a mid-court backhand into the net, and Federer made him pay by breaking in the very next game.
The third seed dug himself a hole with three errors to go from set point to break point but a superb serve got him out of trouble and he duly levelled the match.
Federer and his camp could breathe a little easier, and from there the 16-time grand slam champion was never really troubled, although he made heavy weather of the fourth set in particular.
That is to take nothing away from Goffin, who thoroughly entertained the Court Suzanne Lenglen crowd, bowing to all corners after winning one rally late in the final set and then joining Federer for an on-court interview.