power vs artistry

PARIS - Big-hitting Fernando Gonzalez has a 2008 claycourt record that even Rafael Nadal can't match, but it could end in a whimper against Roger Federer in the French Open quarterfinals today.

PARIS - Big-hitting Fernando Gonzalez has a 2008 claycourt record that even Rafael Nadal can't match, but it could end in a whimper against Roger Federer in the French Open quarterfinals today.

The 24th seeded Chilean has yet to lose a match on clay this year.

He clinched the title at Vina del Mar on home ground in January, winning four matches before taking the title when scheduled final opponent Juan Monaco pulled out injured.

The 27-year-old, the oldest player in the last eight, then won five more matches on his way to the Munich claycourt crown in April before adding two more wins in Rome before injury forced him to hand third round opponent Nicolas Almagro a walkover.

"Maybe this year it's no accident that I haven't lost a match on clay. I've been improving my game, and I'm really happy to keep doing it here in the French Open," said Gonzalez.

Despite his record, Gonzalez will be the overwhelming underdog against the world No. 1, having lost 10 of their 11 meetings, including a straight sets third round loss at Roland Garros in 2005.

That day, the Chilean fired turbo-charged forehands at the Swiss superstar throughout a first set of brutal hitting, which Federer edged on a tiebreak.

Gonzalez, who put out Swiss ninth seed Stanilas Wawrinka in the third round after coming back from two sets down, steadily ran out of steam and Federer coasted to victory.

"I don't have a really good record against Roger, but we've played many good matches and I really enjoy it," he said.

"Because, after him, there's nobody else. He's number one, you have nothing to lose." - Sapa-AFP

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