World number one Novak Djokovic saved four match points to outlast Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and return to the semi-finals of the French Open, where he will face old acquaintance, Roger Federer.
The top-ranked Serbian breezed through the opening set to take it 6-1. But Tsonga, who was seeded fifth and playing in his first Roland Garros quarter-final, turned the tables. The Frenchman took the following two sets 7-5 after breaking Djokovic late in both.
The partisan home crowd was ecstatic by then, but the fans moaned with disappointment after Djokovic saved four match points to force a tie-break in the fourth set. The top seed went on to win that and the deciding set, 6-1.
“If you're playing a top player and home favourite and you have a crowd that is supporting him incredibly so, you have to face all these things. Physically, we are all ready, we are all fit, and we are all hitting the ball well.But it's a matter of, you know, just a couple of points here and there will decide the winner. That was the case,” Djokovic said after the match.
The hard-fought victory in just over four hours means Djokovic remains on course for his fourth straight major crown, and could become the first man to hold all four Grand Slam titles since Rod Laver, in 1969.
Next up for Djokovic, is third seed and former champion Roger Federer, who also had to dig deep. The Swiss master faced the man he lost to in the final of the US Open in 2009, Juan Martin Del Potro.
The Argentinean took the opening two sets, 6-3, 7-6. But he crumbled and it was all Federer after that as the 30-year-old served out for a deserved five-set victory, 6-2, 6-0, 6-3.
So, Federer will next try to repeat his semi-final victory over Djokovic from last year, and says he is happy with the way he plays.
“I knew it was going to be a tricky match, I knew that margins were not on my side anymore. That's where I just tried to keep playing tough, make him understand how far he still had to go, as well, because I had a very long way. I was able to do all of those things, and I was very happy the way I played, you know, starting the third set,” he said.
Over in the women's draw, US Open champion and former finalist in France Samantha Stosur coasted past Dominika Cibulkova, 6-4 ,6-1. The Slovak had ousted top-ranked Victoria Azarenka in the fourth round, but she failed to serve up another upset after converting just one break point out of 10 against the Australian.
Next up for Stosur is another surprise package, Sara Errani. The Italian knocked out Angelique Kerber of Germany, 6-3, 7-6, claiming her first top-ten scalp to reach her maiden Gran Slam semi-final, and send out a signal to Stosur.
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