• Federer holds off Tsonga to reach Australian Open semis

    1/23/13 1:12 PM | Ricky Dimon
    Federer holds off Tsonga to reach Australian Open semis Roger Federer prevails over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in five sets on Wednesday in Melbourne. Federer will go up against Andy Murray for a spot in the title match.

    Roger Federer passed his first serious test of this Australian Open when he outlasted Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 7-6(4), 4-6, 7-6(4), 3-6, 6-3 in a tense quarterfinal on Wednesday night. Federer needed three hours and 34 minutes to book a blockbuster semifinal showdown with Andy Murray.

    The Swiss had a surprisingly tough time holding onto breaks at the beginning of this one. He broke right away for 1-0 in the opening set but two forehand winners from Tsonga and two forehand errors from Federer led to a break back at love in the sixth game. Six holds later--one in which the underdog saved a break point at 4-4--a tiebreaker had to decide the opener.

    The 'breaker all boiled down to a single mini-break, which came at the very start when Tsonga netted a backhand. Both players took care of their serves from there, with Federer sealing the deal with service points at 5-4 and 6-4.

    Tsonga sprayed 20 unforced errors in the first set but caught fire in the second. Melbourne's No. 7 seed struck four aces without double-faulting, cracked 12 winners to seven mistakes, and he dropped a mere two points in five service games. One break was easily enough for Tsonga to level the match at a set apiece.

    Federer was quick to regain momentum after dropping a set for the first time this fortnight. He broke right away for a 2-0 lead in the fourth, racing to 0-30 advantage in the second game before capitalizing on break point when Tsonga dumped a backhand volley in the net. Federer also led 30-0 in his ensuing service game, but a flurry of forehand errors led to his returning the break lead. From there both men held en route to another tiebreaker.

    This time one mini-break was nowhere near enough for Federer. The world No. 2 gave back advantages at 2-1 and 4-3, but he righted the ship with a brilliant forehand pass and could do no wrong the rest of the way as he once again prevailed seven points to four.

    A relatively bizarre fourth set featured three breaks of serve--all in succession. After the two competitors squandered a combined five break points early, Tsonga finally broke for 4-2, gave it right back for 4-3, then broke yet again for 5-3. A rare comfortable hold came in the ninth game, with the Frenchman capitalizing on set point at 40-30 thanks to a forehand winner.

    The match's back-and-forth nature continued in the decider, in which one poor service game ultimately cost Tsonga his upset bid. At 1-2, the world No. 8 suddenly lost miles per hour on his serve and Federer pounced by taking control of rallies from the start and ultimately breaking when Tsonga missed a backhand at 15-40. Tsonga made a brief push by saving four match points at 2-5 and edging ahead 15-30 at 3-5, but Federer won the final three points and converted his first chance with a punctuating volley.

    "The whole match was tough," the 17-time slam winner admitted. "Any set could have gone either way. I feel a bit lucky to come through. I feel like we played great tennis. It was a pleasure playing against Jo tonight because he played great, too."

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Ok now that Fed has passed his test I hope he serves better in the semi.

chr18 , 1/23/13 1:29 PM

If he serves under 60% again it will be a case of...
`Ah but winning against me on a slow court slam is not as important as a grass court etc blah blah, so it doesn't really matter!`

Twinge , 1/23/13 2:04 PM

The semi-finals are in place,
For a dramatic, pulsating race.
A spot in the final is at stake,
But who's hearts about to break?

Ferrer was made to work and sweat,
Now the Spaniard has no regret.
Djokovic fought for the chance,
For another shirt-ripping dance.

Murray proved himself quite hardy,
As he beat Jeremy Chardy.
Federer fought a red hot Tsonga,
Yet the Swiss came out the stronger!

hrsikesa , 1/23/13 2:15 PM

The thing that impressed me the most from Tsonga was his return of serve. Normally,his return his awful, but I guess that his something him and rasheed have been working on. As for Federer, he played ok I guess.

tj600 , 1/23/13 2:33 PM

Go Federer!

stratocast51 , 1/23/13 2:57 PM

I think Tsonga's return has to do with how Fed served today. Fed's not serving very well today; he was broken so many times today, contrast that to Fed's previous four matches where non of his opponents were able to break serve even once. Fed was just playing OK today but he's clutch when he needed to. His serve is one of his most important weapons and when it's not consistently good, he would run into trouble. If its Nole or Murray he's facing today, he would have lost the match.

luckystar , 1/23/13 3:15 PM

So, luckystar who do you think is going to win Roger-Andy SF.

fedexal , 1/23/13 4:09 PM

Depends on how they play. If Fed is serving like he serves today, Andy will win. Andy is a much better returner of serves than Tsonga is. He's also quicker around the court, anticipates well and will get to many shots. I do believe they both will bring their best to the match. I say this court suits Murray more than Fed; unless the wrong Murray turns up to play, I think Murray will be the one reaching the final.

luckystar , 1/23/13 4:20 PM

^^I agree (unsurprisingly) i am a little less concerned about the wrong Andy turning up however.

a. Its not the dreaded final, winning this is hardly a guarantee of winning the event.
b. It's time Andy took it to Fed in a slam whom he has always had a winning record against.
c. Andy seems ready.
I am not certain about this one by any means & wouldnt be surprised if Andy lost but I think he might just edge it.

Twinge , 1/23/13 4:33 PM

Here is how I see Andy-Roger panning out. I think AndyM has got a Slam under his belt will help him relax against Roger but Roger is not going to hand him on the plate. It is going to be tight match not necessarily a 5 setter though.

I think first set will be a key. Whoever wins it is going to stay in the contest . Since Andy is much more mature now I think even if he loses this he would be believing that he can turn it around, but I still feel first set is slightly more crucial for AndyM.

I haven't seen AndyM in AO but I think he is doing very good. No opposition isn't his fault and he needs to be aggresive with his FH. He needs to be more aggresive against Fed and he should come to the net more often as he volleys OK. He needs to serve well , serve clutch importantly. ROS would be another important aspect as Fed hates deep and quick returns on his feet specially. If Andy returns well he can push Fed back at the start of point.

From Fed's perspective he needs to serve well and shank his FH less.

Its too tight a match to call but just because Fed has been there so many times I would give Fed the edge.
From Fed side , you know he would put in a decent performance but

fedexal , 1/23/13 5:34 PM

Well much would depend on Fed's serve and Andy's FH.
At the moment I feel it's 75% in Muzz's favor.

abhirf , 1/23/13 5:38 PM

Oops an incomplete analysis in my last post but I hope Andy's BH DTL is working well and Fed is not shanking a lot. It would be a top quality match then.

fedexal , 1/23/13 5:39 PM

Tsonga's post match comments about the WTA were simply hilarious. He said: "You know, the girls, they are more unstable emotionally than us. I'm sure everybody will say it's true, even the girls (laughter). No? No, you don't think? " He also added: "But, I mean, it's just about hormones and all this stuff. We don't have all these bad things, so we are physically in a good shape every time, and you are not. That's it."
LOL. Perhaps he went a bit too far, but there is an element of truth to what he is saying.

tj600 , 1/23/13 5:43 PM

Serving from both is key I think.
Aggression from Andy is certainly key too.
He surely has learned his lessons from before given the way his game has developed with Lendl. He is a considerably more aggressive player Today than even a year ago so that must continue so he must take the game to Roger and not let him dominate.
He must not assume, at any point, that Roger will shank anything at this stage and must take all of his chances to have chance.
He should rotate his shots inc speed and spin/flat/slice etc constantly and confuse Federer.
Like Novak he is more of a rhythm player and Murray likes to play with this.
Andy will target his BH and Roger will try for the FH inevitably.
First set is more important for Murray obviously for confidence but he must hang in there regardless he will have his chances either way.
Its reasonable to give Roger the edge but there has to be a first time for this particular match up and i would say the time could well be now.
It should be very interesting.

Twinge , 1/23/13 5:49 PM

It seems that Tsonga won 80+% of the longer rallies against Fed. I believe Murray could also do that against Fed and pick and choose the right moments to come to the net. Net rushing won't help Murray much I feel; he has to mix it up. Yes , I feel serve is the key for both of them, and with Murray's better (than Tsonga) ROS, he could capitalize if Fed doesn't have a good serving day.

luckystar , 1/23/13 6:16 PM

Well Muzz better improve on that WTF performance against Fed. I believe that if they both play their current best, then Muzz will win. In other words, the match will be won between the ears.

BTW, Fed's shank is a symptom or a result of someone good playing against him. It is not an isolated problem. He only does it when under pressure. If he is shanking against Muzz, it will be because Muzz is playing well. In other words, Muzz won't win because Fed is shanking.


Conspirator , 1/23/13 7:45 PM

At least we will have one decent SF. I don't hold out any hopes whatsoever for Ferrer against Djokovic.

nadline , 1/23/13 7:50 PM

blowout city in ferrer djoker

RickyDimon , 1/23/13 8:01 PM

"If he is shanking against Muzz, it will be because Muzz is playing well. In other words, Muzz won't win because Fed is shanking..."

True and an addendum to our previous discussion.
But Roger is good enough not to shank even when Andy is playing well.
My main point is that Andy shouldn't play for Federer mistakes alone, he should go for winners, but yes i expect there to be no rain and a reasonable amount of shanking from Roger regardless ;)

Twinge , 1/23/13 8:18 PM

In practise Andy is wearing a T shirt that says: "Prepare, Attack, Destroy."
Don't u just LOVE Lendl?

deuce , 1/23/13 8:29 PM

Oh Yes I think I do love the taciturn old sod.
He's a legend once and now twice.
The Scots should make him an honoury Scotsman for what he has ahchieved!
Lets face it, we both had our doubts.
No one said anything but surely he is the best new tennis coach like E-VAH!
Lets hope Andy takes his t-shirts advice ;)

Twinge , 1/23/13 8:36 PM

tj600, thanks for the post. i was horrored to read what unintelligent prejudice rubbish tsonga was saying about men and women with regard to emotionally unstable. leaving school to be a tennis pro, that's what you get :( back to the stone age!

croc , 1/23/13 9:27 PM

What is Martina gonna say about Tsonga's comments?

pennster , 1/23/13 9:41 PM

First, Tsonga's comments were completely outrageous. This idea that women's hormones affect anything and everything they do, is sexist crap! Women can function very well with their hormones, just as men can manage to function with theirs! Who ever got this idea that only women have hormones? Testosterone, anyone? Tsonga was spewing the very worst kind of chauvinistic, paternalistic garbage that women have had to listen to for far too long.

Having given my opinion of Tsonga's comments about female tennis players, I will say that he played a great match against Fed. I didn't think it would be that tough. But when Tsonga comes out and plays his game, then he can be extremely dangerous. Fed doesn't seem quite so impenetrable after watching that match. But in a fifth set in a slam, Fed is really tough to take down. He brought the goods when it counted.

As far as Fed/Murray, this is a close call. There are some key things in this matchup. Will Murray having won a slam and beaten Fed for the Olympic gold medal, shift the dynamic this time? As others have said, Murray has a great ROS. That could be crucial in this match. Both have to serve well. I don't think Murray has to come out be aggressive coming to net. I think he needs to mix it up. His defensive skills are superb and his movement is so important in that regard.

Lendl will have helped Murray to prepare for this match. I remember well Lendl's ruthlessness on court. But he had to be tough. If he wasn't, then JMac and Connors would have eaten him alive. He never gave anything away. I think we will see Murray continue to control his emotions and outbursts on court. It's going to happen at times, but not nearly as often.

Murray is capable of winning this match. There is no doubt about that. But Fed has a way of bringing his best when it counts. Murray doesn't have to play for Fed mistakes, but if they happen then he must capitalize.

This should be a great match. It's awfully hard to predict. However, I have a feeling that Murray can win this one.

I am with Ricky regarding Ferrer/Djoker. If Almagro had kept it together, Ferrer wouldn't even be in the semis. Djoker showed that the match with Stan didn't wear him out. So that question has been answered. He managed to deal with Berdy very well. I cannot see Ferrer beating him.

Nativenewyorker , 1/23/13 11:32 PM

If Federer serves like he did last night, Andy will have the edge. Fed was slightly off and Tsonga blew the few opportunities he created. Still, Fed is the favorite going in. Their matches tend to be blow outs on either side - they haven't had tight matches for a while now. And I agree with the poster above: the first set will be key.

racquet , 1/23/13 11:59 PM

Not sure why everyone points to Fed as a slight favourite. He is not 25 like Murray, and this 5 hour match will have drained him, despite his jokes about in the post match interview. If he doesn't win the 1st set this could easily go the way of the Olympic final, in which he was clearly exhausted from the Del Potro epic, and Murray played very well of course. I think Murray would have beat a rested Federer that day anyway, but it's rare for fEd not to take a single set in a best of 5, on grass.

Bharata , 1/24/13 1:20 AM

^^ sorry, 5 set match, not 5 hours of course...

Bharata , 1/24/13 1:23 AM

Regarding Fed and the fifth set, it's not always that he's tough to beat in the fifth set. Remember how Rafa and Delpo beat him in AO and USO respectively in 2009? Or how Nole beat Fed in USO 2010 and 2011? Even Tsonga managed to hold it together in the fifth set of Wimbledon 2011 to beat Fed. It's Tsonga who went away after winning the fourth set yesterday, allowing Fed to consolidate his efforts for one last push in the fifth set. Had Tsonga not letting go after winning the fourth set, things would be more complicated for Fed.

Fed is far too experienced for Tsonga. Even though Tsonga could rely on his solid serve to hold his own service game, when it came to the tiebreaks, he's no match for Fed as Fed simply knew how to play a tiebreak better than anyone else.

luckystar , 1/24/13 4:10 AM


Rafa is not Tsonga! I would even put Delpo above Tsonga. I didn't say that no one can ever beat Fed in the fifth set of a slam. Of course he has been beaten, especially by the likes of Rafa and Nole.

I agree that Tsonga lost his focus in the fifth set. He got in trouble on his serve and couldn't dig himself out as he did at other times in the match. This was when it was critical for him not to give up the early break. That gave Fed what he needed and then he turned it up a notch to close it out. That is what Fed and Rafa have done so well in tough slam matches - they can hit the right shots at the right time. Fed's experience did help him this time. At other times it has not helped him.

Also, saying that Fed has lost in the fifth set of slams doesn't mean that it's easy to take him out. I said that it's tough to take him out in a fifth set. I thought that it was a combination of Tsonga losing his concentration and focus and Fed making the key shots when it counted.

Nativenewyorker , 1/24/13 7:47 AM

Deuce, look how close I was for a 5 set Fed barely crossed 3.5 hrs...Now, really looking forward to a Fed-Murray match...hope its not a blowout on either side like most of their recent matches...

netcord , 1/24/13 8:51 AM

"Regarding Fed and the fifth set, it's not always that he's tough to beat in the fifth set..."

As I stated Federer's career record in the 5th set is DIRE. He is 93rd & that is a fact.
If it goes to 5 then Murray will most definitely win, despite Rogers improvement in this regard (probably caused by having to endure more 5 set matches from lower ranked opponents nowadays than anything else).
Andy's ROS, I dont know what happened to it at the WTF but it was rampant in Shanghai against Rfed & he needs it back for this encouter thats for sure.
My take about Andy since the US Open was that he suffered a come down, the smaller tournaments could not compare to winning his first slam, particularly with all the rest heaped on top. Now he has another slam on in his sights, he'll want the feeling again & I am reasonable confident he will
turn up big time for the semi.
And if he does, judging from what I have seen from Federer so far, he will be going through to face Novak.

Twinge , 1/24/13 11:07 AM

50% of the game is WON/LOST in the mind.Never underestimate your opponent.Don't read the press is the keyword

hrsikesa , 1/25/13 8:45 AM

Current ATP-rankings

1. Djokovic 12 500 pts
2. Murray 8 750 pts
3. Federer 8 670 pts
4. Ferrer 6 970 pts
5. Nadal 6 385 pts

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