- French Open, Day Nine
Novak rallies from a set down to down Kohlschreiber
Novak Djokovic overcame a slow start to topple Philipp Kohlschreiber in four sets to reach the quarter-finals of the French Open.
Djokovic dropped his first set of the tournament as a sharp and focused Kohlschreiber threatened an upset, but the No. 1 seed rode out the storm before powering to a 4-6 6-3 6-4 6-4 win.
Kohlschreiber won their only previous meeting at Roland Garros, in 2009, and he looked in excellent touch early in the contest. He dictated play from the baseline, was happy to mix things up with slices and drop shots, and took a deserved break in the fifth game when a defensive lob from Djokovic drifted over the baseline.
Kohlschreiber continued with the drop shot attacks and a deft touch to drag Djokovic in handed him an easy backhand to back up his break of serve.
For as well as Kohlschreiber played in the first set, Djokovic looked subdued and three errors in a row resulted in the Australian Open champion smashing his racket into the ground in disgust as Kohlschreiber held for 5-3.
Djokovic had a chance to break back at 4-5 but he did not take his opening and the set went Kohlschreiber's way when a backhand clipped the top of the net and went beyond Djokovic's racket.
Both players started with love holds at start of second set as Kohlschreiber attempted to keep Djokovic under wraps, but he paid the price for passing up four points to hold for 2-2 in the second set. A sloppy drop shot followed by a wild forehand handed Djokovic his first break of a match and a 3-1 lead.
Despite being a break ahead, Djokovic was well short of his best and Kohlschreiber created and squandered a number of break back chances as the Serbian held to draw level.
Kohlschreiber began the third set with a confident hold but two games later he produced an abject game to gift Djokovic a break and it was an advantage the world No. 1 retained as he closed out the set to move ahead of his German opponent.
Djokovic's level picked up in the fourth set as he struck the ball more crisply than at any stage in the match and he broke through in the fifth game. He had to withstand one final barrage from Kohlschreiber in the sixth game, with both players firing on all cylinders, but a 199kmph ace gave him game point - which he converted with a clenched fist.
With the cushion of a break under his belt, Djokovic was freed to turn on the style and a stunning lob broke the resolve of Kohlschreiber and a barrage of backhands wrapped up the double break.
Kohlschreiber postponed the victory charge by breaking back, wowing the crowd in the process with a stunning dinked passing shot on the run. Djokovic was forced to serve out for a second time but on this occasion he got the job done to book his place in the last eight.
Tommy Haas will be Djokovic's quarter-final opponent as the German veteran crushed Mikhail Youzhny. Russian No. 29 seed Youzhny was out of sorts for much of the match, he destroyed a racket in frustration, and fell to a 6-1 6-1 6-3 defeat.