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Fed fightback sees off Simon in epic battle

RAFAEL NADAL and Novak Djokovic return to Court Philippe Chatrier today bidding to join Roger Federer in the French Open quarter-finals.

The Swiss extended his record of consecutive appearances in the last eight at Grand Slams to 36 – but not without a scare against Gilles Simon.

Federer, for whom it was also a 900th tour-level victory, was two sets to one down against the Frenchman before turning things around to win 6-1 4-6 2-6 6-2 6-3 and set up a quarter-final clash with Jo-Wilfried Tsonga tomorrow.

Federer said: "I think it's good, honestly. Now I clearly know where I stand and how well I'm playing. It gives me a lot of info.

"I'm still fairly fresh. It wasn't one of those four-and-a-half-hour battles. It was intense, but I think I did really well and never felt tired.

Seven-time champion Nadal, 27 today, has looked well below par so far but will hope a day off to practice has steadied the ship before he takes on Kei Nishikori.

World No 1 Djokovic, who meets Philipp Kohlschreiber, has been impressive but is playing his first match since learning of the death of his first coach and mentor Jelena Gencic.