6/10/11 3:36 AM | Ricky Dimon
Rafael Nadal will go up against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga on Friday at the AEGON Championships. A place in the semifinals is at stake.
Rafael Nadal and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga will be doing battle for the seventh time in their careers when they meet in the quarterfinals of the AEGON Championships on Friday afternoon.
Nadal leads the head-to-head series 5-1, but they have never faced each other on anything other than hard courts. They most recently square off at last year's Sony Ericsson Open, where Nadal dominated 6-3, 6-2. Tsonga's lone victory over the current world No. 1 came in the 2008 Australian Open semis via a surprising 6-2, 6-3, 6-2 blowout.
Both players are in fine form as the summer begins to heat up. Nadal is looking to pull off the French Open-Queen's Club double for the second time in his career (2008), having triumphed at Roland Garros just last weekend. The top-seeded Spaniard has not been dominant during his quick transition to grass, but he showed enough to get past Matthew Ebden 6-4, 6-4 and Radek Stepanek 6-3, 5-7, 6-1.
Like his opponent, Tsonga also got a first-round bye as one of the top eight seeds (No. 5). The 19th-ranked Frenchman is coming off a third-round showing in Paris, where he seemed poised to go further but squandered a two sets and a break lead against Stanislas Wawrinka. Tsonga rebounded by destroying Michael Berrer 6-0, 6-1 in round two and he led countryman Michael Llodra 4-3 in the first set on Thursday when Llodra retired due to injury.
A two-time Wimbledon champion, Nadal is more than capable of finding success on grass. Tsonga has never enjoyed great results on the slick stuff, but he does have the power game that can trouble Nadal. The favorite should continue to improve as this tournament progresses and a straight-set win is the likely result, but Tsonga will make it competitive.
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