Roger Federer of Switzerland celebrates defeating
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France in their men's singles
quarter-final match at the Australian Open in Melbourne.
Roger Federer has survived his first major test of the
Australian Open, fending off an inspired Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in
five enthralling sets to reach his 10th straight semi-final at
Having not dropped a set in his four lead-in matches, the
Swiss maestro was pushed hard by the flamboyant Frenchman,
who stormed back into the match twice with some brilliant
shot-making under the lights of Rod Laver Arena.
The 31-year-old Swiss was, however, a model of composure as
he broke the Frenchman early in the decider and prevailed 7-6
4-6 7-6 3-6 6-3 to set up a mouth-watering semi-final with
Briton Andy Murray.
"It was a tough close for sure, but the whole match was
tough. Any set could have gone any way," the 31-year-old said
in a courtside interview.
"I feel a bit lucky obviously to come through...but it was a
great pleasure to play Jo because he played great too.
"We haven't played for a year...but I thought he played
Battling for survival, Tsonga saved four match points when
serving to stay in the match, but Federer closed out victory
on the fifth in the following game with an overhead smash to
keep alive his bid for a fifth title in Melbourne.
A disappointed Tsonga, losing finalist to Novak Djokovic in
2008, provided a flicker of hope for the nearly-men behind
the 'Big Four' of men's tennis, and vowed to come back
"I'm a bit in the bad mood because I lost it. But in another
way I played a good match. I was solid, I was there every
"I just gave my best today, so I'm proud of that, but I'm not
happy to lose, and I already look forward to the next
tournament, the next grand slam, to try another time."
Federer's ability to coax his 31-year-old legs through a
five-set epic has been questioned here, and the Swiss
appeared determined to wrap up the match quickly, breaking
Tsonga in his opening service game.
The athletic Frenchman composed himself, however, breaking
back to take the set into a tiebreak.
Tsonga dropped his guard, allowing Federer a 3-0 head start,
and yelped in dismay after slamming a backhand into the net
to concede the first set.
The Frenchman raised his game in the second, allowing the
Swiss only two points on his serve before sealing it with a
huge serve that grazed the T-line.
The momentum swung again in the third as Federer lifted the
pressure, leaving his opponent shaking his head with a series
of stunning retrievals.
Having come close to being rattled, Federer roared in triumph
as he landed a searing backhand down the line to bring up two
Federer closed it out in spectacular fashion, charging to his
left to retrieve a stinging cross-court backhand, then
angling an improbable return at Tsonga's shoelaces that the
Frenchmen could only poke wide.
That was the prelude for a stunning fourth set as both
surrendered their serve in the face of sumptuous shot-making.
With adrenalin pumping, Tsonga fired a scorching passing shot
to bring up break point in the eighth game, then finessed a
backhand volley into the corner to serve for the set.
Federer blasted a backhand wide to allow the Frenchman set
point, and Tsonga pumped his fists after sealing it with an
Tsonga was left to rue a lapse in the third game of the
decider, as he sprayed three unforced errors to gift Federer
It was a setback he would ultimately prove unable to recover
Federer said he looked forward to another match-up with
Murray, whom he beat in their last encounter at the
semi-finals of the ATP Tour Finals. "I had some tougher runs
against him in a short period of time," he told reporters.
"But I always enjoyed the matchups with him because it gets
to be very tactical."