MADRID (AP) — Roger Federer had to save two match points before reaching the quarterfinals of the Madrid Open with a 6-0, 4-6, 7-6 (3) win over a gritty Gael Monfils on Thursday.
In only his second match on clay since 2016, Federer rallied from three games down late in the third set and then dominated the deciding tiebreaker to outlast Monfils in a match of more than two hours at the Magic Box center court.
It was the 1,200th career win for Federer, allowing him to join Jimmy Connors as the only players to have reached the milestone in the Open Era.
The fourth-seeded Federer had eased past Richard Gasquet in his first match in Madrid and looked set for another comfortable win after routing Monfils in less than 20 minutes in the opening set. But the Swiss lost five straight games to fall behind the 18th-ranked Frenchman who was seeking his second title of the season.
Federer recovered by breaking Monfils at 2-4 in the third set, and then saved the two match points in a long game when trailing 5-6. The 20-time Grand Slam champion was back in control in the tiebreaker, winning six of the first seven…