Federer nears career Grand Slam
No. 2 seed reaches semifinals of French Open with 3-set win

PARIS - Roger Federer knows it.

So does everyone else.

And they all keep telling him - fellow diners at restaurants, passers-by on the street, people who hop out of cars at red lights and ask for an autograph.

"Everybody," Federer said, "is like, 'This is your year. You've got to do it.'"

By beating 11th-seeded Gael Monfils of France 7-6 (6), 6-2, 6-4 Wednesday, Federer moved into the French Open semifinals for the fifth consecutive time. There is one significant difference in 2009: Rafael Nadal is not around to prevent Federer from claiming the only Grand Slam singles title he's never won.

Federer lost to Nadal in the past three French Open finals, and in the semifinals the year before that. Put another way: Since the start of the 2005 French Open, Federer is 0-4 against Nadal at Roland Garros, 28-0 against everyone else.

"Roger is respected," Monfils said. "People want Roger to win for the first time here."

Even other players.

"Everybody wants Roger to win this tournament," said No. 5-seeded Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina, who eliminated No. 16 Tommy Robredo 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 in the last quarterfinal. "If I can't win this tournament, I want to see, next Sunday, Roger with the trophy."

There is plenty on the line for the second-seeded Federer over the coming days.

If he can get past del Potro in Friday's semifinals, then defeat No. 12 Fernando Gonzalez or No. 23 Robin Soderling - the man who knocked off Nadal - in Sunday's final, it would make Federer only the sixth man in history with a career Grand Slam.