Federer, playing in an Open era record 29th consecutive quarterfinal, was 178-0 before today’s match when he won the first two sets in a Grand Slam match. The No. 12 seed from France came back to win 3-6, 6-7 (3-7), 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 on Centre Court. He’ll play second-seeded Novak Djokovic of Serbia for a place in the finals.
Top-seeded Rafael Nadal and fourth seed Andy Murray will meet in the other semifinal. The 25-year-old Spaniard has beaten Murray 11 of the 15 times they’ve played.
Federer last year failed to reach the Wimbledon finals for the first time since 2002 as he was beaten in the quarterfinals by eventual finalist Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic. The Swiss, at 29 the oldest man in the quarterfinals, was trying to equal the record of seven All England Club titles held by William Renshaw and Pete Sampras.
“It’s always a tough match to lose,” Federer said at a press conference. “Jo played great. Really from start to finish, I don’t remember seeing a breakpoint after I broke him in the first game.”
Tsonga, 26, has now won two of his six matches against the Swiss, and reached his first semifinal at the All England Club with the win. The Frenchman had been a runnerup to the No. 4 seeded Andy Murray of Britain at a grass-court warmup event at Queen’s Club in London.
Tsonga reached his first Grand Slam final at the 2008 Australian Open, where he lost to Djokovic. The Frenchman has won 5 of their seven previous meetings. They’ve never played on grass.
After taking the first two sets, Federer dropped the third as Tsonga started to attack his serve and found the range on his ground strokes. In the third game of the fourth set, Tsonga broke the Swiss with a forehand winner.
Serving at 5-4, Tsonga forced a fifth frame as he produced his 14th ace on set point. In the final set, Federer got broken in the first game as he dumped a forehand into the net. Tsonga held for a 2-0 lead and continued to dictate the Swiss with powerful forehand winners.
Serving for his first place in the semifinals of Wimbledon as the crowd cheered, Tsonga won the match on his first match point as Federer’s backhand return sailed long.
“It’s just amazing, I’m so happy,” Tsonga said in a televised interview after the match. “He’s the biggest champion in my sport, he’s achieved a lot of things.”
Tsonga produced 18 aces, one more than Federer. The Frenchman also struck 63 winners and made 22 unforced errors. The Swiss produced 57 winners and made 11 mistakes.
“I was two sets down, then I broke. I had a good return game,” Tsonga said. “After that, I played unbelievable, I served unbelievable.”
Federer had entered Wimbledon after he made the finals of the French Open earlier this month, where he lost to defending champion Nadal. It had been Federer’s first Grand Slam final since he won a 16th major title at the 2010 Australian Open. He’s won the most Grand Slam singles trophies in the men’s game. Australia’s Margaret Smith Court holds the overall record at 24.
The Swiss, who turns 30 in August, has won 11 grass-court tournaments, the most since tennis turned professional in 1968. His most recent grass-court win dates back to 2009 Wimbledon, the year Nadal didn’t play because of sore knees.
Federer missed playing in his 29th major semifinal, which would have allowed him to surpass Ivan Lendl into second place behind Jimmy Connors, who played in 31. The Swiss player has appeared in 29 straight Grand Slam quarterfinals.
Nadal took his win streak on the grass courts of southwest London to 19 in a row. He last lost in the 2007 final to Federer. The third set was just the second he’s lost in five matches in this year’s tournament.
“I started playing very well,” Nadal said in a televised interview. “I had a break in the third and then he started playing better. I lost some of the intensity in the third.”
Chasing Borg, Laver
Nadal is trying to become just the second man, after Bjorn Borg, to win the French Open and Wimbledon titles in the same year on three occasions since tennis went professional in 1968. He would have 11 major titles should he win this year at the All England Club, tying him with Borg and Rod Laver.
Fish, 29, was the 10th seed. He has never beaten Nadal, who may lose the top ranking in the men’s ATP tennis tournament should he not retain his Wimbledon title or should Djokovic reach the final at the All England Club.
Djokovic defeated 18-year-old qualifier Bernard Tomic of Australia 6-2, 3-6, 6-3, 7-5, to reach his fifth straight Grand Slam semifinal.
“I’m delighted to be through,” the 24-year-old said in a televised interview, after beating his occasional practice partner. “He’s such an unpredictable player. He didn’t have anything to lose.”
Two-time Australian Open champion Djokovic had entered the French Open last month with a chance of taking the No. 1 spot away from Nadal if he’d made the final. Instead, former world No. 1 Federer beat him in the semifinals, ending the Serb’s start-of-season winning streak at 41 matches, one fewer than John McEnroe’s record set in 1984.
After Roland Garros, Djokovic pulled out of playing a grass-court warmup event at Queen’s Club in London because of fatigue. He played one match on grass before Wimbledon, at an exhibition event at Stoke Park just outside of London. Only six men have won the Wimbledon title without playing an official tournament on grass, including Federer in 2007 and 2009.
Until Paris, Djokovic had been on a 43-match win streak since December, when he won the Davis Cup for Serbia at home in Belgrade. That victory had boosted his confidence this season, he’s frequently told reporters. He also changed his diet and worked on his fitness.
Murray reached his third straight Wimbledon semifinal with his victory. He lost last year to Nadal.
The 24-year-old is attempting to be the first British man to win the singles title at the All England Club since Fred Perry in 1936. He reached the semifinals in 2009 and 2010, and reached his first French Open semifinal this year.
To contact the reporter on this story: Danielle Rossingh at Wimbledon through the London sports desk at email@example.com