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    Evergreen Haas makes French Open quarters

    Jun 3, 2013
    German Tommy Haas, 35, beat Mikhail Youzhny to become the oldest men's quarterfinalist at Roland Garros since 39-year-old Istvan Gulyas in 1971. AP

    PARIS — Tommy Haas' resurgence at age 35 reached a new peak on Monday, when he became the oldest French Open men's quarterfinalist since 1971 by beating Mikhail Youzhny 6-1, 6-1, 6-3.

    Haas also became the oldest man to reach the quarters at any major event since Andre Agassi at the 2005 US Open.

    Seeded No. 12, Haas needed 13 match points to beat John Isner in a third-round marathon, but the victory over Youzhny took less than 90 minutes. By the second set, Youzhny was so frustrated he demolished his racket by banging it nine times against his changeover chair.

    Haas served well and dominated with his returns, winning 25 of 41 points on Youzhny's first serve and breaking eight times.

    Victoria Azarenka swept the final nine games and advanced to the women's quarterfinals by beating 2010 champion Francesca Schiavone 6-3, 6-0.

    Seeded No. 3, Azarenka improved to 26-2 in 2013. She has won the Australian Open each of the past two years, and Roland Garros is the only major tournament where she has yet to reach the semifinals.

    Haas became a first-time Roland Garros quarterfinalist in his 12th appearance at the tournament, a record for such a breakthrough. He's the first German man to reach the final eight since Michael Stich and Bernd Karbacher in 1996.

    He's the oldest men's quarterfinalist at Roland Garros since 39-year-old Istvan Gulyas in 1971.

    Ranked No. 2 when he was 24, Haas is now the oldest player in the top 100. He was sidelined from February 2010 to April 2011 because of hip and shoulder injuries, but he's 25-9 this year, and his ranking has risen to 14th from 205th at the beginning of 2012.

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    His next opponent will be No. 1 Novak Djokovic or No. 16 Philipp Kohlschreiber.

    Play began in weather so cool both players dressed in long sleeves, and Azarenka wore leggings under her skirt. From the baseline the two women traded strokes and grunts.

    "Ah-heee!" Azarenka shrieked.

    "Wah-hooo!" Schiavone responded.

    There were four consecutive service breaks before Azarenka took the lead for good, holding to make it 4-3. The superior pace and depth of her shots began to wear on the unseeded Schiavone, and Azarenka took charge by winning 11 of 12 points during a stretch late in the first set.

    The Belarusian broke serve seven times and committed only 14 unforced errors.

    Azarenka is 0-2 in French Open quarterfinals. Her opponent this time will be the winner of the fourth-round match between No. 12 Maria Kirilenko and unseeded Bethanie Mattek-Sands.

    Roger Federer's route toward a second French Open title will pit him against another Frenchman in the quarterfinals, although judging by the way his fourth-round win was greeted Sunday he may feel like he's the one playing at home.

    The 17-time Grand Slam champion beat 15th-seeded Gilles Simon 6-1, 4-6, 2-6, 6-2, 6-3 to reach his 36th consecutive major quarterfinal, and next takes on Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the last eight on Tuesday.

    "It's been an amazing run, and I'm happy I'm still on it," the 31-year-old Federer said.

    Beating Simon was more difficult than dispatching Frenchman Julien Benneteau in the third round. The crowd gave Simon an ovation when he trudged off center court, but there was a palpable sense of relief that Federer had stayed on course to repeat his 2009 French Open win.

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    That was evident in the sixth game of the fourth set, when he turned potential defeat into victory by breaking Simon for a 4-2 lead, and in the fifth set when he broke for a 2-0 lead after Simon's forehand from the back of the court bounced out.

    "Of course I would like to have had more support," Simon said. "If I don't get it here, I won't ever get it."

    Federer's popularity at Roland Garros is so great that Tsonga also may feel like the outsider when he takes on the Swiss star.

    Tsonga trails Federer 9-3 in their matches. He has beaten him in a Grand Slam, when he rallied from two sets down to win their 2011 Wimbledon quarterfinal, but Federer won their three other meetings in majors, twice at the Australian Open, once at the U.S. Open.

    "I won't be taking him on any differently to how I have taken him on in the past," Federer said. "He's a very good player, Tsonga. He's dangerous, dangerous for everybody ranked in the top four in the world. He's proved his worth in the past."

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    German Tommy Haas, 35, beat Mikhail Youzhny to become the oldest men's quarterfinalist at Roland Garros since 39-year-old Istvan Gulyas in 1971. AP
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