Federer set to face phenom Goffin

Posted: June 03, 2012

PARIS - If it seems Roger Federer breaks one record or another every time he wins a match, that's because he does these days.

Then again, as good as Federer is, he can't top this: His next opponent at the French Open, the 21-year-old Belgian David Goffin, is unbeaten in Grand Slam main-draw matches. (OK, so Goffin's only 3-0, but still.)

Yes, before Federer can take on Novak Djokovic or Rafael Nadal at Roland Garros this year, he'll need to defeat Goffin, the first "lucky loser" - a player beaten in qualifying who sneaks into the field via someone's withdrawal - to reach the fourth round at any Grand Slam tournament in 17 years, and only the seventh to make it that far.

Goffin was able to make his Grand Slam debut because France's Gael Monfils pulled out with a knee injury. "Now I'm playing against Roger," the 109th-ranked Goffin said after beating Lukasz Kubot, 7-6 (4), 7-5, 6-1, on Friday, "and I can't believe it. Since I was little, I've watched Roger play on TV."

The 30-year-old Federer has been winning major titles since 2003, when Goffin was 12. He's been winning Grand Slam matches since 2000, and Friday's 6-3, 4-6, 6-2, 7-5 victory over Nicolas Mahut was Federer's 235th, adding to his Open era record.

Whichever man advances will stay on course for a possible semifinal showdown against Djokovic, who stretched his Grand Slam winning streak to 24 matches with a lickety-split 6-1, 6-2, 6-2 win over Nicolas Devilder, wrapping things up at 9:32 p.m., just as the sun was about to set.

The top-seeded woman, Victoria Azarenka, also barely beat darkness while beating Aleksandra Wozniak, 6-4, 6-4.

Maria Sharapova beat Ayumi Morita, 6-1, 6-1, in a second-round match delayed a day because John Isner and Paul-Henri Mathieu didn't finish their 18-16 fifth set until after 9 p.m. Thursday.

"Pretty long day yesterday. I feel like I warmed up, like, 20 times for this match," Sharapova said. "Yeah, it was one of those days where you just want to get on the court and then you're at the courts all day and sitting, waiting around, eating, sleeping. It's, like, a good way to put someone into retirement."

She's scheduled to be back on court Saturday in the third round against No. 28 Peng Shuai. The last two French Open winners will play Americans: 2011 champion Li Na against Christina McHale of Englewood Cliffs, N.J., and 2010 champion Francesca Schiavone against Allentown's Varvara Lepchenko.

McHale and Lepchenko might derive inspiration from 19-year-old Sloane Stephens of Coral Springs, Fla.

Stephens eliminated Mathilde Johansson of France, 6-3, 6-2, Friday to reach the fourth round at a Grand Slam tournament for the first time, then rejoiced at the thought of what counts for success in this day and age.

"I'm excited," Stephens said, "because now I'm going to have more Twitter followers."

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