Photo: Paul ZimmerJo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA)
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga produced a scintillating performance to defeat Roger Federer 75 63 63 and reach his first Roland Garros semifinal. Federer started the better of the two players and clinched an early break of serve to lead 4-2 in the opening set. However, the Frenchman, backed by a vociferous French crowd, fought back and levelled the set at 5-5.
Federer found himself 0-40 down when serving at 5-6 but saved all three set points with some aggressive tennis. Tsonga refused to give in and forced another, which he converted. The break of serve rattled the Swiss and he was broken again in the second game of the second set.
Tsonga’s backhand was given a thorough examination by the world No. 3 but it held firm and he produced several powerful winners helped the Frenchman clinch the second set. Tsonga, the sixth seed, was relentless, earning 14 break points throughout the match and he broke the Federer serve again at the start of the third set.
Federer broke straight back but there was to be no denying Tsonga a place in the semifinal, much to the delight of the French fans who believe Tsonga could be their first champion in 30 years. Tsonga will meet the in-form David Ferrer in the semifinal in what should be another exciting match with neither player dropping a set en route to the last four.
Ferrer is in the semifinal after he defeated comeback king Tommy Robredo 62 61 61 in just an hour and 25 minutes. Robredo had recovered from two sets to love down in each of his last three matches, and, when he quickly fell behind in this round, the crowd were hopeful they might see yet another resurgence.
However, Robredo’s time spent on-court took its toll and he looked lacklustre whereas Ferrer maintained his high level of performance to easily reach the semis for the second successive year.
In the women’s draw, Serena Williams came from a break down in the final set to defeat Svetlana Kuznetsova 61 36 63 to reach the semifinal. Williams started quickly, as she has done throughout the tournament, and Kuznetsova had no answer to her play in the opening set. The Russian, who won the tournament in 2009, fought back and raced to a 5-0 lead in the second set.
A Williams comeback was on the cards when she recovered one of the breaks with Kuznetsova serving for the set, however, she could not do the same again and the Russian served the set out at the second time of asking.
There was a shock on the cards when the unseeded Kuznetsova forced an early break in the final set to move 2-0 ahead, but Williams was able to up her performance, winning the next four games and maintaining her break advantage to win the match. That win means that Serena is the first American woman to reach the semifinal since Jennifer Capriati did so in 2004.
Her opponent in the final four will be Sara Errani after the Italian won a hard-fought match with Agnieszka Radwanska 64 76(6). Errani was runner-up last year and has continued her excellent form in Paris this year. There was added celebration for Errani as the victory was her first over a Top 5 player.
Errani was much more clinical when taking her chances to break in the first set, winning both of the break points she earned. In contrast, Radwanska only converted one from six as Errani took the set. The second set saw both players create five break points, and they converted four each as the match swung one way and then the other.
The set eventually went to a tiebreak and Errani recovered from an early break to win it 8-6 and seal her place in the final four. The Italian does not have a good record against Serena, having lost all five of their previous encounters, but now that she has her first win against a Top 5 opponent, she will have a new-found belief.