Roger Federer survived a hard-fought battle against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga Wednesday night at the Australian Open, outlasting the Frenchman 7-6 (7-4), 4-6, 7-6 (7-4), 3-6, 6-3 to book a spot in the semifinals of this Grand Slam event for the 10th consecutive year.
Federer, who had cruised through the first four rounds in Melbourne without dropping his serve once, found himself in a dogfight on Rod Laver Arena against an aggressive opponent.
But although he dropped at least one service game in each of the first four sets and five overall, the Swiss relied on his serve at critical junctures, particularly in the first- and third-set tiebreakers.
He also stepped up his serving in the final set, winning 20 of 25 service points and not facing a single break point.
"Jo was really pressing forward today, playing aggressive, pushing me to come up with the plays and get one more extra ball back," the world No. 2 said in the post-match press conference.
"It was a tough match from the start really. A lot of ups and downs on both sides obviously ... more good ones than bad ones, because ups and downs you can see the negative way, too. But I thought we always played well to get back into the match," Federer said.
The Swiss will be aiming for his sixth Australian Open final when he squares off Friday night against Scotland's Andy Murray, a 6-4, 6-1, 6-2 winner over surprise quarterfinalist Jeremy Chardy.
Murray had lost to Chardy in their previous meeting on a fast court in last year's Cincinnati event, but he dominated the match on the slower hard courts in Melbourne after a brief hiccup midway through the first set.
"I started the match pretty well I thought. Then when he got a break back in the first set, I became a bit tight," Murray told reporters afterward.
"He's a tough guy to play against because of the nature of his game and his style. He goes for a lot of shots and, you know, he can play a couple of games where he misses and then, you know, three, four games he's hot and he makes very few errors and puts you under a lot of pressure," the world No. 3 said.
The first men's semifinal will be played Thursday night and pit world No. 1 Novak Djokovic of Serbia against world No. 5 David Ferrer of Spain.
The Australian Open is the first of four Grand Slam events on the tennis calendar. EFE