Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Federer cut down by inspired Tsonga

Updated June 30, 2011 10:10:00

Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga shredded the Wimbledon script with a devastating fightback to knock six-times champion Roger Federer out and clinch a semi-final showdown against Novak Djokovic.

Federer's unlikely 3-6, 6-7 (3-7), 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 capitulation on a stunned Centre Court was the first time he had lost a grand slam match from two sets up and meant there would be no repeat of the semi-final line-up at the French Open in which the world's leading quartet faced off.

The other usual suspects will be present although defending champion Rafa Nadal had painkilling jabs to numb the pain of a mystery foot injury before a 6-3, 6-3, 5-7, 6-4 defeat of American Mardy Fish to set up a repeat of last year's semi-final against Briton Andy Murray.

Fourth seed Murray, who also lost to Nadal in the French Open semis this month, outclassed unseeded Spaniard Feliciano Lopez 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 to the delight of the home crowd dreaming of a first British men's singles winner for 75 years.

Federer's defeat in the quarter-finals for the second consecutive year came completely out of the blue.

The 29-year-old Swiss has been in sublime form during the championships and was strongly fancied to win a seventh Wimbledon title to match the feat of American Pete Sampras.

The first two sets resembled nothing more than a light sparring session for Federer as he went through his silky repertoire to build a commanding lead.

His title bid began to disintegrate, though, as Tsonga broke in the fifth game to halt Federer's momentum and he overpowered the 16-times grand slam champion with a stunning display of fearless tennis.

"I felt so good on the court. I was quick. I was just perfect today," Tsonga told reporters after only his second comeback from a two-set deficit.

"Every time I was feeling like a dream."

Distant but defiant

A strangely distant Federer seemed resigned to his fate as Tsonga roared past him and he was sanguine despite a defeat that raises question marks about his ability to add to his record haul of major silverware.

"Except the score, many many things went right," Federer, who played better than he did in last year's quarter-final defeat by Tomas Berdych, told reporters.

"I thought I played a good match myself. I'm actually pretty pleased with my performance today. It's kind of hard going out of the tournament that way, but unfortunately it does happen sometimes."

Federer insisted he is not a spent force and can capture another major title.

"I think I definitely can, yes. I wouldn't be here if it wasn't the case," he said.

"I'm healthy. Even though I took a tough loss today, I don't feel discouraged in any way. I'll work harder than ever and hopefully come back extremely strong for Davis Cup next week and then the American summer again."

Before Wednesday, Federer had boasted a 178-0 grand slam win-loss record when winning the first two sets.

His only defeats from two sets to love up had come against Lleyton Hewitt in the 2003 Davis Cup final and in the 2005 Masters in Shanghai against David Nalbandian.

Nadal must win the title to have any chance of remaining at number one but rankings were last thing on his mind as he admitted the foot that needed an MRI scan after his last-16 victory over Juan Martin del Potro was worrying him.

"Very happy to be in semi-finals, first thing, but my foot is not fine," the 25-year-old told reporters after a relatively comfortable win over the American number one.

"But we are in quarter-finals of Wimbledon. Is an emergency, so I had to play," added Nadal, who said the anaesthetic had numbed his foot for five hours.

"I am not scared because I know I have to try my best for the rest of the tournament. That's what I gonna do. And I'm ready to play."

The women return to the spotlight on Thursday when Maria Sharapova takes on Germany's Sabine Lisicki in the semi-finals and Petra Kvitova plays Victoria Azarenka.


Tags: sport, tennis, united-kingdom, england

First posted June 30, 2011 06:27:00

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