Inspired Tsonga too good for Federer
ROGER Federer was eliminated in the Wimbledon quarterfinals for the second straight year yesterday, squandering a two-set lead for the first time at a grand slam tournament and losing to JoWilfried Tsonga 3- 6, 6-7 (3), 6- 4, 6- 4, 6- 4.
The six-time Wimbledon champion barely looked challenged while winning the first two sets against the 12th-seeded Frenchman. But Federer, who had been 178- 0 in matches in which he had won the opening two sets at a major tournament, was broken one time in each of the last three sets.
“I was two sets down and I break. I did a good game of return and after that it was just amazing,” Tsonga said. “I just played unbelievable, served unbelievable and now I’m here, I’m in semifinal and I can’t believe it.”
In the next round, Tsonga will face second- seeded Novak Djokovic, who defeated 18-year- old Australian qualifier Bernard Tomic 6-2, 3- 6, 6-3, 7-5.
Federer was seeking a record- equaling seventh Wimbledon title this year. He breezed through his opening four matches, losing only one set, and played his usual elegant game against Tsonga.
In the first set, Federer earned his one and only break point of the match in Tsonga’s first service game, and converted it. He held the rest of the way, and then won the second set in the tiebreaker.
But Tsonga finally got his first break in the third set, and another in the fourth and another in the fifth.
Those were the Frenchman’s only three breaks, and they were just the amount he needed to send Federer home early again.
“I played unbelievable. Everything was in, you know,” said Tsonga, who had 63 winners and only 22 unforced errors. “It’s never easy to play against Roger.”
Later yesterday, defending champion Rafael Nadal was playing Mardy Fish, while No. 4 Andy Murray was scheduled to take on Feliciano Lopez on Centre Court.
Federer has won six titles at the All England Club, including five in a row from 2003- 07. He lost to Nadal in the 2008 final in what is considered by many to be one of the greatest matches ever, and then beat Andy Roddick for the championship a year later, winning 16-14 in the fifth set. Last year, he lost to eventual runner-up Tomas Berdych in the quarterfinals.
“It’s the biggest champion in my sport,” Tsonga said. “He achieved a lot of things and he’s just the best player in the world and I’m just so happy to win against him, especially on grass because it’s maybe one of his favorite surface and I’m just so happy today.”
In an earlier match, a subdued Djokovic ended the dream Wimbledon run of 18-year- old Tomic with a 6-2, 3- 6, 6-3, 7-5 victory in the quarterfinals.
“I’m delighted to be through it’s a great result but was a very even match,” Djokovic said. “I played very well to start with but I played one very bad service game and he got back into the match and from that moment on he was the better player.
“I had some very, very difficult serve games which I managed to hold.”
The Serbian second seed, bidding for his first Wimbledon title and the world No. 1 ranking, cruised through the opening set.
Qualifier Tomic grew in confidence though and using his patient and delicate groundstrokes to frustrate the Serb, he took the second and opened up a 3-1 lead in the third. Djokovic had struggled to deal with the low, slow sliced backhands of Tomic but was stunned into action and reeled off seven games in a row to take command.
Tomic, the youngest man to reach the Wimbledon quarterfinals since Boris Becker in 1986, made a string of basic errors but out of the blue he hit back in the fourth set, whipping a ferocious forehand down the line to seal another break.
Djokovic fell heavily at 4-5 and struggled to hold his serve but an exquisite drop shot in the next game set up another break.
The 24-year-old Serb rediscovered his consistency and earned himself two match points in the next game, the first of which he converted when Tomic netted a groundstroke.
“He is a very unpredictable player and has never been in a grand slam quarterfinal before and he had nothing to lose and was hitting a lot of winners and I couldn’t predict where he was going,” Djokovic said.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France leaps to hit a return to Roger Federer of Switzerland during their quarterfinals at Wimbledon yesterday. Right: Serbia’s Novak Djokovic ( left) shakes hands after defeating Australia’s Bernard Tomic in another quarterfinal yesterday. — AP/ Reuters