Photo: Paul ZimmerRoger Federer (SUI)
Roger Federer eased past Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 63 75 64 in under two hours to reach the quarterfinals of the Australian for an 11th consecutive year where he will face Andy Murray as the top seeds all came through unscathed in the men’s draw on Monday.
Federer displayed attacking intent from the off against the Frenchman who had beaten the world No.6 on their last meeting in the quarterfinals of last year’s Roland Garros, coming to the net 41 times during the match and winning 34.
“I was hoping I could play a little bit aggressive. So I think it worked out better than I thought it would. You know, I was good at net. I was consistent. I was solid. I was quick. I had the right mindset,” explained Federer. “I think the plan definitely worked out well for me tonight.”
The 32-year-old has been broken just once in his four matches and allowed his opponent today only one break point opportunity in the match, which he saved late in the third set. Tsonga was rueful of missing his one chance but admitted that he was outplayed over the course of the match.
“In the third set, you know, maybe if I did this breakpoint, maybe it can change… But he took the ball very early today, and he was always taking my time. Because he took so ball so early, I don't have time to play my game.”
Murray seemed on course for an equally straightforward result against lucky loser Stephane Robert as he dropped just three games on the way to a two set lead before the world No. 119 fought back and took the third set in a tiebreak.
There was to be no miraculous comeback, however, as Murray took his game up a gear in the fourth set to regain the upper hand and seal a rematch of last year’s semifinal in which he beat Federer before losing to Novak Djokovic in the final.
“It will be interesting, because we had an interesting year last year with some ups and downs. It's a good start to the season for both of us already,” said Federer looking ahead to the match.
“The draw is a very testing draw. I know it's tough. It's not easy for anybody right now at this stage of the tournament, because you don't want to have any hiccups right now.”
Rafael Nadal kept his bid for a second Australian Open title on track against Kei Nishikori holding his nerve in three tight sets, 76(3) 75 76(3). He will next face Grigor Dimitrov who ended the run of Roberto Bautista Agut with a 63 36 62 64 victory.
In the women’s draw there was a comfortable victory for second seed Victoria Azarenka who saw off Sloane Stephens in straight sets, 63 62. The Belorussian has yet to drop a set in her run to the quarterfinals and will now face Agnieszka Radwanska who defeated the last remaining unseeded player in the women’s draw Garbine Muguruza, 61 63.
The other quarterfinal in the bottom half of the draw will see Simona Halep take on Dominika Cibulkova after they scored upset victories over Jelena Jankovic and Maria Sharapova respectively.
Cibulkova was bidding to reach the quarterfinals of the Australian Open for the first time having made the final eight at each of the other Grand Slams. Having lost the first set she raced into a 5-0 lead in the second before slowly having her lead eroded, serving it out at the third attempt to force a decider.
The third set was a one-sided affair after Sharapova had taken a medical timeout during the break and never found her rhythm as she fell 36 64 61.
Halep progresses to the quarterfinal of a Grand Slam for the first time as the world No. 11 continued her recent good form in a back-and-forth encounter with Jankovic, 64 26 60.
The ITF produces men’s match notes at the Australian Open. For a full list of the notes click here.