Federer survives Tsonga to set date with Murray

Wed Jan 23, 2013 10:11am EST
 
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By Ian Ransom

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Roger Federer survived his first major test of the Australian Open on Wednesday, fending off an inspired Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in five enthralling sets to reach his 10th straight semi-final at Melbourne Park.

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 extremely aggressive."

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 stronger.   Continued...

 
Roger Federer of Switzerland hits a return to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France during their men's singles quarter-final match at the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne, January 23, 2013. REUTERS/Tim Wimborne