FOR Bosnia’s Damir Dzumhur it was the day he had dreamed of while for Roger Federer it was just another day at the office.
The two, from vastly different tennis backgrounds, met across the net for the first time on friday when Federer’s class told in a 6-4 6-3 6-2 win to continue his smooth progress at the French Open.
Federer, 33, is yet to drop a set in three rounds as he tries to win the title for a second time after his 2009 triumph.
Dzumhur, born in Sarajevo in 1992, the year the city was besieged in a bitter civil war that killed thousands, played his part in an entertaining contest.
The world number 88, the first Bosnian man to contest a grand slam at the 2014 Australian Open, impressed the 17-times grand slam champion with his drop shots and was not overawed on Court Phillipe Chatrier, the biggest stage he has played on.
“When I was warming up, I was still not believing that I was playing Roger Federer,” he told reporters.
“Really, it felt so strange for me, like I’m dreaming… But then, suddenly, I switched when I started to play.”
Federer broke serve in the fifth game, which was sufficient to bag the first set, and a majestic backhand pass gave him a break at the start of the second.
The agile Dzumhur stuck to his task, earned some chances himself and even broke Federer when the Swiss served for the second set at 5-2, flashing a stunning backhand down the line.
The end came quickly in the third set but Dzumhur walked off with his head held high and €85,000 richer, a lot of money for a player who has virtually no financial support from his hard-up home federation.
Federer had some kind words for his opponent after notching his 64th career victory at Roland Garros and recalled when he walked out on court to play against his idols.
“It was the most exciting time almost in my playing career, going from that phase from juniors to pros, and then rubbing shoulders with those guys,” said the former champion.
“Seeing them prepare, joke around, being one of you, basically, and all of a sudden you become friends with them. I think it’s very cool.
“I thought Damir played well. I think he played drop shots well. He moves well. So I thought it was an entertaining match. I wish him all the best for the year and for the future.”
Federer, who lost to Ernests Gulbis in the fourth round last year, will face either French showman Gael Monfils or Uruguay’s Pablo Cuevas for a quarter-final place.
Defending French Open champion Maria Sharapova passed her first serious test with flying colours, dismissing Australian 26th seed Samantha Stosur 6-3 6-4 to reach the last 16.
The second seed from Russia had too much poise and pace for Stosur, runner-up in 2010 and twice a semi-finalist, whose heavy top-spin game can be a handful on clay.
Sharapova, who played in the last three French Open finals, winning two, broke four times to seal a convincing win when Stosur fired a forehand wide.
The five-times grand slam champion will take on Czech 13th seed Lucie Safarova for a quarter-final spot.
The pressure is so high on French women at Roland Garros that a third-round win can be celebrated like a final victory, as Alize Cornet demonstrated wildly on Friday.
The 29th seed lay on her back on the red clay, unleashed a scream and burst into tears after her 4-6 6-3 7-5 defeat of unseeded Croatian Mirjana Lucic-Baroni.
For the first time in her 11 years as an entrant on the Parisian clay, she was through to play for a quarter-final spot.
“I feel the pressure of Roland Garros and the pressure of the tournament and the fact that I want to do good,” she told a news conference.
Cornet faces 19th seed Elina Svitolina, the Ukrainian number one, in the fourth round.
Asked about her celebration after a somewhat routine win, the Frenchwoman explained she felt great relief following a tight tussle with the hard-hitting Ljucic-Baroni, who beat last year’s runner-up Simona Halep of Romania in the previous round.
Compatriot Kristina Mladenovic will try to join her in the fourth round when she meets Belgium’s Alison van Uytvanck.
Should she succeed, it would be the first time two French women have reached the fourth round since 2009.
The last home favourite to lift the Suzanne Lenglen Cup was Mary Pierce in 2000.