Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Federer's Salute to Stronger Tsonga; French Hope Marches into Paris Semis

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Federer's Salute to Stronger Tsonga; French Hope Marches into Paris Semis

Article excerpt

Byline: Eleanor Crooks

A DEJECTED Roger Federer conceded he was well beaten by Jo-Wilfried Tsonga as the Frenchman kept alive hopes of a home victory at Roland Garros.

Not since Yannick Noah 30 years ago has a home player lifted the Coupe des Mousquetaires, but Tsonga showed he will be a tough man to beat with a thumping 7-5 6-3 6-3 victory over Federer to reach his first semi-final at Roland Garros.

The second seed began the stronger and was an early break up but he was pegged back to 4-4 and from there Tsonga was in control.

Federer saved three set points, one with a superb backhand pass at full stretch, but there was more of the bad than the good from the Swiss yesterday and a shank gave the set to his opponent.

Tsonga has always been capable of brilliance, but he and coach Roger Rasheed appear to have added consistency to his game and he was simply too good for Federer yesterday.

The 31-year-old said: "I thought he played great today. He was in all areas better than me. That's why the result was pretty clean. I think I struggled a little bit everywhere. To be honest, I'm pretty sad about the match and the way I played. But that's how it goes."

In the semi-finals Tsonga will meet fourth seed David Ferrer, the other only man in the tournament who has not dropped a set, after he ended Tommy Robredo's run with a 6-2 6-1 6-1 thrashing.

Federer's defeat, meanwhile, means it will be the first time since Rafael Nadal played Tomas Berdych at Wimbledon three years ago that a grand slam final has been contested by a player outside the big four.

The Swiss did not want to be drawn on whether such variety is good for the game, saying: "I'd be happy if it would be either David or Jo (in the final).

"Both deserve it. Both train hard."

Tsonga was very close to reaching the semi-finals here last year when he held match points against Novak Djokovic but could not take them.

Two years ago he beat Federer at the same stage at Wimbledon from two sets down, and he rated yesterday's win as among the best of his career.

The Frenchman said: "For sure, it's going to be at the top because it's here at Roland Garros, in France, on a big court with a lot of people, middle of the afternoon, and I just beat Roger Federer. …

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