Federer outlasts Tsonga to reach semifinals

Roger Federer has progressed to the semifinals of the Australian Open for the 10th consecutive year, the No.2 seed outlasting Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 7-6(4) 4-6 7-6(4) 3-6 6-3 in their quarterfinal on Wednesday night. The 31 year old is through to contest his 33rd Grand Slam semi-final.

"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.

Going into the match, Federer had not even dropped serve, let alone a set, throughout the tournament, winning all 57 of his service games in his first four matches. The Swiss faced a much sterner test in 2008 runner-up Tsonga, though, and needed three hours and 34 minutes to progress.

"It was a tough match from the start really. A lot of ups and downs on both sides obviously," said Federer. "I'm very happy. It was a good match. I enjoyed it. 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."

"I toughed it out. That also gives you confidence when you have to go through those matches. The physical stamina was there, the focus with there till the very end. So it does give you a lot of confidence moving forward from here."

He is looking to lift the trophy for the fifth time this week after success in 2004 (d. Safin), 2006 (d. Baghdatis), 2007 (d. Gonzalez) and 2010 (d. Murray).

"I'm young, you know, I'll recover quick - compared to the seniors, of course," Federer joked. "I'm looking forward to it. Andy is a great guy, a great player."

Federer looked in ominous form at the start of his 12th contest with Tsonga, breaking immediately and holding twice for a 3-1 lead. Tsonga did what no player had achieved so far this tournament and broke the Federer serve to level at 3-3. But the Swiss was on form in the eventual tie-break, wrapping up the 50-minute opening set as Tsonga netted a backhand when trailing 4-6.

Errors crept into Federer’s game at crucial times in the second set. They proved costly when Tsonga broke for a 4-3 lead before serving out to 15 to level the contest. Breaks were exchanged at the start of the third set and in the subsequent tie-break it was again Federer who had the advantage. The Basel native broke for a 6-4 lead with a scorching backhand winner and the pressure told on Tsonga as he miscued a backhand volley in the next point.

After holding from 0/40 down in the third game of the fourth set, Tsonga attacked Federer again, showing a positive attitude throughout the set. The Frenchman broke for a 4-2 lead and, despite immediately relinquishing the advantage, shook off the poor service game to break Federer again, this time decisively.

Seventeen-time Grand Slam champion Federer raised his level in the fifth set, though, and Tsonga could not match him. Federer broke for a 3-1 lead and had four match points in the eighth game, but was denied as the resilient Tsonga stayed in contention. There was no mistake when he served at 5-3, though, and he clinched his fifth match point with a winning overhead.

"I kept my level of concentration really high all times. He was very aggressive. He didn't miss a lot in the fifth set. I mean, it makes a difference," assessed Tsonga. "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. I sent a good message. I'm here, I'm playing well, so you can count on me in the next game."

Federer goes onto face World No. 3 Andy Murray, who cruised past Jeremy Chardy in straight sets earlier in the day. It is a rematch of the 2010 final at Melbourne Park, when Federer ran out a straight-sets winner.

"I don't go into it with a mindset that I've never lost to him in slams," said Federer. "He's beaten me so many times. He's beaten me more times than I've beaten him. I like the matches with him. I think a lot of them are very close. I very often have come up with some great play against him in the slams when it mattered. But we'll see if I can produce it again."

Date: 23rd January 2013, Source: ATP and Reuters


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