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Federer Slips Past Tsonga in Five Sets

Roger Federer faced his stiffest challenge of the 2013 Australian Open in the quarterfinals, getting past Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in five tough sets.

By Chris Oddo

Roger Federer, Australian Open (January 23, 2013) -- Roger Federer was pushed to the brink by Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, but the four-time Australian Open and seventeen-time Grand Slam champion emerged with a hard-fought 7-6(4), 4-6, 7-6(4), 3-6, 6-3 victory that propelled him to his 33rd career Grand Slam semifinal.

"I enjoyed it," Said Federer of his 9th career victory over the Frenchman. "Could have been four. Could have been three. I could have lost it. So at the end, I'm just happy I won in five."

Federer, who hadn’t dropped serve all tournament heading into this quarterfinal, was broken five times by a spunky Tsonga in the three hour, thirty-four minute contest.

It was Federer who drew first blood in the match, breaking the Frenchman in the first game of the night, but a few games later Tsonga would draw even with a break of his own to end Federer's run of 59 successful service games. Federer would earn a chance to move ahead 5-4 later in the set, but his forehand found the net and the pair headed to a first-set tiebreaker.

In the tiebreaker, a few loose points put Tsonga behind the power curve at 3-0, and Federer would hold on to take the tiebreaker, 7-4.

Undeterred, an inspired Tsonga broke for a 4-3 lead in the second set and held on to level the match, but Tsonga would fall again in a tiebreaker in the third set to trail two sets to one.

“It was a tough match from the start really,” Federer said afterwards. “A lot of ups and downs on both sides obviously.”

Tsonga would break Federer twice in the fourth set to force a decider, cracking seventeen winners in the set and winning 8 of 9 points against Federer’s second serve.

But Federer would come good in the fifth set. The World No. 2 upped his career five-set record to 21-16, playing his best tennis down the stretch. He broke for a 3-1 lead and even though he squandered four match points in the eighth game, he held his nerve to finish off the Frenchman with his serve in the next game, putting an end to the festivities by knocking off an overhead on his fifth match point.

“I was solid,” Tsonga opined of his effort. “I was there every time. But you know, I’m not happy to lose and I already look forward to the next tournament, the next Grand Slam to try another time.”

Federer advances to a record tenth consecutive Australian Open semifinal with the victory, and he’ll face one of the few players on tour with a winning record against him, Andy Murray, next.

In the other semifinal Andy Murray defeated first-time Grand Slam quarterfinalist Jeremy Chardy, 6-4, 6-1, 6-2.

Chardy had an inauspicious beginning to his first career quarterfinal. He double-faulted twice in the first game to gift Murray the early lead, and he was behind 4-0 before he could get himself into any sense of rhythm. But the Frenchman showed signs of life when he sandwiched a break of serve in the sixth game around two holds to draw within 4-3. He used his huge forehand to great effect in those games, getting Murray on the string more than he would have liked.

“He’s a tough guy to play against because of the nature of his game and style,” said Murray. “He goes for a lot of shots...”

Chardy nearly came all the way back to force a tiebreaker. The 25-year-old got to 0-30 with Murray serving for the set in the tenth game, but the Scot reeled off four quick points to close the set.

Chardy, who was bidding to become the first unseeded semifinalist in a Grand Slam since 2008, fell behind a double break again in the second set, and this time there would be no coming back.

Murray would kick it into cruise control from there. He broke again in the process of closing out the second set, then secured three more breaks in the third set to win running away.

“I played a good match, but he was too good for me,” said Chardy. “I played a good tournament so I’m still happy. But it’s tough to lose with no solution.”

Murray tied Guillermo Vilas by reaching his fourth consecutive Australian Open semifinal, and he won his 12th consecutive Grand Slam match.

The World No. 3 has only spent eight hours and fifty-six minutes on the court in five matches, winning all fifteen sets he’s played. When asked if he was disappointed that he may not have been tested enough in the early rounds, Murray answered confidently, “I can’t be disappointed about being in the semis of a Slam without dropping a set. That would be silly.”


(Photo Credit: Mark Peterson/ Corleve)

 

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