Serena Williams rallies to down Svetlana Kuznetsova while Sara Errani has it easy past Agnieszka Radwanska in the women's quarter-finals.
French Open: Local favourite Tsonga rocks Federer in straight sets to make semis
By Roger Federer's standards, defeat came early in the French Open. And it came quickly.
The 17-time grand slam champion lost yesterday in the quarter-finals to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France, 7-5, 6-3, 6-3.
Federer was eliminated before the semi-finals for the second time in his past three Grand Slam tournaments, but only the seventh time in the past decade at a major event. Tsonga was responsible for two of the losses – he also beat Federer in the quarter-finals at Wimbledon in 2011.
Serena Williams narrowly avoided Federer’s fate. She came from behind in the third set and advanced to the French semi-finals for the first time since 2003, defeating Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 yesterday.
Williams had been beaten the last four times she has reached the Roland Garros quarter-finals, most recently in 2010.
The 15-time major champion, who is ranked No 1, won her only French title in 2002. Tsonga earned his first berth in the Roland Garros semi-finals and is trying to become the first Frenchman to win the tournament since Yannick Noah in 1983. He is the first Frenchman to reach the semi-finals since Gael Monfils in 2008.
“I can’t have better a dream,” Tsonga told the crowd at centre court. “So far, I play very well. I played against a champion today, a guy who has won everything. Today it’s my turn.”
On Friday he will play fourth-seeded David Ferrer, who beat fellow Spaniard Tommy Robredo 6-2, 6-1, 6-1.
Tsonga was runner-up to Novak Djokovic at the 2008 Australian Open, his best grand slam result. Ranked No 8, he dominated Federer with his blend of power and athleticism.
Federer took a 4-2 lead, but played like a mere mortal after that. He blew three overheads, missed several easy volleys, hit no aces, dropped serve six times and took a shot to the body on the point that put Tsonga ahead to stay in the final set.
Facing a break point, Federer sliced a drop shot, and Tsonga raced forward to scoop it up. He whacked a backhand that clipped the net cord and then drilled Federer under his right arm.
That made it 4-3, and Tsonga quickly won the final two games. When he closed out the victory, Federer greeted him with a gracious smile and two congratulatory pats on the stomach.
A jubilant Tsonga then went spinning across the court, waving his arms as the partisan, Parisian crowd roared. Federer, long a fan favourite in Paris, also earned a lusty cheer as he headed to the exit.
“I’m pretty sad about the match and the way I played,” Federer said. “He was in all areas better than me today. That’s why the result was pretty clean.”
The last time Federer lost to a player ranked so low in a major tournament was at Wimbledon two years ago, when the 19th-ranked Tsonga overcame a two-set deficit to beat him.
The French Open has been the most difficult major event for Federer. He won his lone Roland Garros title in 2009 to complete a career grand slam and tie Pete Sampras’s record of 14 major titles.
Now 31, he has yet to win a tournament in 2013, his longest drought to start a year since 2000.
In the women’s semi-final, Williams’s opponent will be 2012 French runner-up Sara Errani, who advanced by beating No 4 Agnieszka Radwanska 6-4, 7-6.
Errani showed her run last year was no fluke as she rallied from a 3-1 deficit in the second. The Italian did not falter in the tie-breaker, converting her second match point when Radwanska hit a backhand wide.
Radwanska was the first Polish woman to reach the quarter--finals here in the open era.
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