A great champion, and a great challenger. That was the matchup Tuesday, as Roger Federer took on Jo Wilfried Tsonga for a spot in the Semifinals of the French Open. This match had the buildup, the hype, and the potential to be a fantastic match. Federer, the 17 time grand slam champion, against the flashy and powerful Tsonga.
The first set went about as expected for 25 minutes. The two played high quality games, and Federer earned a break with some great forehands. He was serving up a break at 4-3 40-15, when everything changed. A couple lazy points later, Tsonga had break point to even the match. With another unforced error from Federer, Tsonga now had all the momentum. Federer managed to hold at 4-5, but Tsonga then broke him to win the first set 7-5. Federer made an obscene amount of errors and didn’t really seem to care. He saved three set points, but his lazy play came back to bit him.
The second set started much the same way. Tsonga won the first three games with hardly losing a point, Federer looking completely out of sorts. Tsonga was starting to play some inspired tennis. His serve was great, but Roger’s return was equally as bad. He literally could not make a ball. Tsonga cruised to a 6-3 second set victory.
Roger was broken once again to open the third set. He started to show some emotion, willing himself to break back. The tennis from Federer wasn’t pretty, but he grinded to 3 all. Meanwhile, Tsonga continued to do all the right things, using his forehand to penetrate Federer’s defences. He broke to get the lead 4-3, and he never looked back. Winning the third set 6-3, as the crowd erupted for their French man. Federer looked very stubborn, unwilling to change his failing game. I love Roger, but it became obvious that his normal game was not working. He never changed and that resulted in a routine straight set win for Tsonga.
Jo Wilfried deserves a lot of credit for not letting the moment get to him. He led for nearly the whole match, and it never appeared that he felt the pressure. He came up with some great shotmaking, and most importantly, he was only on court for an hour and 55 minutes. He will face David Ferrer in the Semifinals. Ferrer took out an exhausted Tommy Robredo 6-2 6-1 6-1.
This is a great opportunity for both guys. Ferrer is looking to get to his first career grand slam final, and he must be smiling after seeing Federer, a player he is 0-14 against, get knocked out. For Jo, he’s got the weight of a nation on his shoulders. The French now have a lot of hope to win their first French Open since Yannick Noah 30 years ago. Congrats David and Jo.