PARIS -- Roger Federer lost three of his first four service games Wednesday, causing a stir among French Open fans but only briefly delaying his progress to the semifinals.
The top-ranked Federer rallied to defeat Fernando Gonzalez 2-6, 6-2, 6-3, 6-4 and reach the final four at his 16th consecutive Grand Slam event.
"It's always a great pleasure being in the last four," Federer said. "It's really where it gets most interesting."
Seeking the only major title he has yet to win, Federer on Friday will face Gael Monfils, who became the first
Frenchman to reach the French Open semifinals in seven years
when he beat fifth-seeded David Ferrer 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 6-1.
Federer lost the first set in 25 minutes but wasn't broken after that. He won 36 of his final 40 service points, including the last 17 in a row.
Federer appeared susceptible to an upset after committing a dozen unforced errors in the first set, which he lost in 25 minutes. He found himself on the defensive against the No. 24-seeded Gonzalez, who came into the match 16-0 on clay this year.
"I was a bit afraid because the match was not going the way I wanted," Federer said. "I was really under pressure in the first set. I felt uncomfortable. I was missing a lot of shots, and he defended well."
Federer became more aggressive, attacking Gonzalez's forehand. The change in tactic helped him repeatedly reach the net, where he won 29 of 35 points.
In the final three sets, Federer held all 13 service games.
"I was really happy the way I came back," he said. "I really got on a roll, played great and was able to dominate him at times."
After closing out the victory with a drive volley, Federer raised a fist as he skipped on the clay -- a rare display of exuberance from the Swiss champion. His 12 major titles are second only to Pete Sampras' 14, and he's bidding to become the sixth man to win all four Grand Slam championships.
Monfils is bidding for a title that has eluded the French since Yannick Noah's triumph in 1983.
Monfils broke Ferrer's serve twice in the opening set to take command of
Ferrer, a clay-court specialist, won the second set. But Monfils stepped up a gear and wrapped up
the win after 2 hours, 27 minutes.
The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.