WIMBLEDON, ENGLAND - Jo-Wilfried Tsonga came back from two-sets-to-love down on Wednesday to stun six-time champion Roger Federer in the Wimbledon quarterfinals. Reigning Wimbledon titlist Rafael Nadal, Australian Open champ Novak Djokovic and heavy British crowd favourite Andy Murray all avoided upsets to reach the semifinals at the storied All England Club.
A twelfth-seeded Tsonga posted the biggest win of his career by coming all the way back to dismiss the third-seeded former world No. 1 Federer 3-6, 6-7 (3-7), 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 on the famed Centre Court. Federer had been an astounding 178-0 when winning the first two sets of a Grand Slam match.
The French Tsonga served brilliantly all day to force the issue against the all-time great Federer.
"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."
Federer appeared to be cruising in the sunshine after taking the second-set tiebreak on Day 9, but Tsonga remained calm and then took it to the mighty Swiss over the next three sets.
Tsonga surprisingly broke Federer to open the fifth set and never looked back. The Frenchman consolidated the break for a 2-0 lead and then continued to hold the rest of the way, including the final game of the match. The bout came to an end when Federer misfired long on a backhand return.
The ultra-tight affair ended after 3 hours, 8 minutes, as Tsonga out-aced Federer, 18-17, and recorded three breaks, compared to only one for the baffled Swiss icon.
"It's kind of hard going out of the tournament that way, but unfortunately it does happen sometimes," Federer said. "At least it took him sort of a special performance to beat me, which is somewhat nice."
Tsonga is now 2-4 lifetime against the 16-time Grand Slam champion Federer, including 1-1 in majors. The Swiss beat the Frenchman in last year's Aussie Open semis.
"It's the biggest champion in my sport," Tsonga said of Federer. "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 favourite surface and I'm just so happy today."
The 29-year-old Federer had won six of the last eight titles and was the Wimbledon runner-up in 2008, but he's now lost in the quarterfinals here in each of the last two years. The Swiss superstar is still trying to match Pete Sampras' Open Era-record of seven men's singles titles at Wimbledon.
Federer lost to Nadal in this month's French Open final and hasn't captured a Grand Slam title since last year's Aussie Open.
Tsonga, now 10-2 on grass this year, will battle the high-flying Djokovic in Friday's semifinals. It will mark the third Grand Slam semifinal of Tsonga's career (1-1). The flashy Frenchman lost to Djokovic in the 2008 Aussie Open finale.
The 26-year-old Tsonga is a surprising 5-2 lifetime versus Djokovic, including 1-1 in majors.
Tsonga is trying to become the first Frenchman to capture Wimbledon since Yvon Petra back in 1946.
The world No. 1 Nadal won his 19th straight match at the All England Club with a 6-3, 6-3, 5-7, 6-4 victory over 10th-seeded American Mardy Fish on Court 1. The Spanish strongman is now 6-0 lifetime against Fish, including an opening- round Wimbledon victory four years ago.
Nadal closed out Fish on his first match point with a backhand volley winner into a wide-open court. The bout ended in 2 hours, 53 minutes.
The big-serving Fish smacked 12 aces, but had his serve broken a whopping six times, compared to only three breaks by the American.
Nadal nursed a left foot injury in his last outing against Juan Martin del Potro.
"Today it was better. The treatment worked and I'm fine. I'm here," Nadal said. "The previous match was tough for me because for a moment I didn't know if I had a serious injury, but since (it's) nothing important (it's) probably going to work."
The reigning Wimbledon, French Open and U.S. Open champion Nadal will battle a fourth-seeded Murray on Friday. The 25-year-old Spaniard is 4-0 in his career Wimbledon semis.
The 10-time Grand Slam champion Nadal hasn't lost at Wimbledon since falling to Federer in the 2007 final. The mighty Mallorcan beat Federer in the incredible 2008 finale here, missed the 2009 edition of the event due to injury, and titled again here a year ago by besting Czech Tomas Berdych in the title match.
The second-seeded Djokovic, meanwhile, improved to an amazing 46-1 this year with a hard-fought 6-2, 3-6, 6-3, 7-5 victory over 18-year-old Aussie qualifier Bernard Tomic, who was playing in his first career Grand Slam quarterfinal and was the youngest men's quarterfinalist at the All England Club since German legend Boris Becker back in 1986.
Djokovic prevailed in 2 hours, 41 minutes with the help of six service breaks, 14 aces and 41 unforced errors from the young Tomic, who settled for three breaks in a valiant effort on Court 1
"He is such an unpredictable player. He's very young, and obviously, first quarterfinals of a Grand Slam for him means a lot," Djokovic said. "But he didn't have anything to lose, so he was hitting a lot of winners today."
"I'm just happy to get through," Djokovic added.
The talented Tomic actually held the lead on Day 9, as he grabbed a brief 2-0 advantage in the third set after he split the first two stanzas with the super Serb. But Djokovic assumed control soon thereafter by winning six of the next seven games to take the third.
Tomic would challenge again in the fourth set, but Djokovic held on to reach the final four here for a third time. The Belgrade native is trying to reach his first-ever Wimbledon final.
The two-time major champion Djokovic will become the No. 1 player in the world if he beats Tsonga on Friday.
Djokovic is 4-7 in his previous career Grand Slam semis.
The 24-year-old Djokovic already owns a whopping seven titles this year. His lone 2011 loss came against Federer in the French Open semifinals earlier this month, which halted the Serb's 43-match winning streak.
Murray, this year's Aussie Open runner-up to Djokovic, easily handled unseeded Spanish lefthander Feliciano Lopez 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 on Centre Court. Murray will now appear in his third straight Wimbledon semifinal in search of his first- ever trip into the final at the All England Club.
"I've played a little bit better every year I've come here," Murray said. "I want to go further."
The 24-year-old Murray moved on in just over two hours, popping 13 aces, including a match-ending bomb, and breaking Lopez' quality serve on three occasions. Lopez was unable to break the determined Scot on Wednesday.
Murray is now 5-0 lifetime against the capable Lopez.
The Dunblane native Murray is now a perfect 9-0 on grass this season. He titled at the Wimbledon tuneup at London's Queen's Club earlier this month.
Murray will now meet Nadal for a 16th time, as the Spaniard leads the all-time series, 11-4. Nadal topped Murray in the French Open semis earlier this month. The Spanish great also beat the Brit in last year's Wimbledon semis and in the 2008 quarterfinals here.
The three-time Grand Slam runner-up Murray is 3-3 in his career major semifinals. He's trying to become the first male British Wimbledon champion since Fred Perry in 1936.