Photo: Paul ZimmerNovak Djokovic (SRB)
DAY 10: World No.1 Novak Djokovic saved four match points as he edged out home favourite Jo-Wilfried Tsonga to win their quarterfinal contest at Roland Garros on Tuesday. The Serb, who is aiming to hold all four Grand Slam titles simultaneously, will now meet Roger Federer in a rematch of last years semifinal when Federer came out on top.
Djokovic appeared to be in full control of his match against the Frenchman when leading by a set and gaining a break early in the second set but the world No.5 refused to be seen off so easily.
“For the set and a half I played great. Jo was making a lot of unforced errors. He wasn't serving the way he was serving after that,” remarked the 2011 World Champion after the match. “I played one bad service game, and that's when the momentum changed. He got [the] crowd on his side, big support.”
Tsonga roared back and took both the second and third sets by a score of 7-5 forcing the key break in the twelfth game on each occasion with scintillating aggressive play.
The result of the match hinged on a period of play at the end of the fourth set with Djokovic twice serving to stay in the match, saving two match points in each game whilst showing little fear of missing on some huge shots from the back of the court, much to the dismay of the fiercely pro-Tsonga crowd.
“I don't want to be wise now and say, okay, I know you how to play when I'm match points down. I'm just going for the shots. I'm glad I was aggressive in these moments and, you know, it paid back for me,” stated Djokovic.
There was bound to be some let-down for the last remaining French player in the draw and having seen the opportunity to complete a memorable victory come and go he struggled to regain any initiative as Djokovic powered through the tiebreak to level the match and dominated the final set for a 61 57 57 76(6) 61 victory.
“It's a bit of a shame because I was pretty close. I'm not going to regret many things in that match. I gave everything I had. I fought as much as I could,” considered Tsonga after the match. “Unfortunately at the end I had no energy left in my legs. That's it. That's the way it is.”
Juan Martin del Potro was looking for a repeat of his 2009 US Open victory against Federer in the other men’s quarterfinal and wowed the crowd for two sets as he out-hit the Swiss master to take a well deserved lead with the frustration growing evident across the net as he refused to allow the world No.3 any rhythm.
The Argentine, who entered the tournament with a knee injury, appeared to run of steam at an alarming rate after the physio appreared on court early in the third set to tend to his strapping. From that moment on Federer upped his game and inflicted Del Potro’s first ever defeat from a 2-0 advantage in Grand Slams, 36 67(4) 62 60 63.
“I knew it was going to be tough. I have still been struggling to find my rhythm. I did feel it in the first set, even though he was up two sets. I was finding a way back and starting to feel better,” said Federer. “I'm very happy with the way I fought and started in the third set, fourth set, and even in the fifth set where obviously it was the toughest, because that was his last chance and his resistance maybe was the biggest there.”
In the women’s draw Sara Errani continued her impressive form when she scored her first ever victory against a Top 10 player in the form of Angelique Kerber, 63 76(2). That result earned a first ever place in a Grand Slam semifinal and also means she will replace Francesca Schiavone as Italian No.1 at the end of the tournament.
Her opponent in the final four will be Sam Stosur who utilised her heavy spin to overcome Dominika Cibulkova in straight sets, 64 61. The Australian, who has made her way through the draw to a large extent under the radar, will now be favourite to make it back to the Final having complied a perfect 5-0 head-to-head against Errani, including s victory at Rome in the last month.
Follow all action from Paris on the official tournament website: RolandGarros.com