Federer Beats Tsonga In Another Grass-Court Thriller
Roger Federer held off some of Jo-Wilfried Tsonga's best hitting to reach his 17th NOVENTI OPEN quarter-final on Thursday and keep alive his hopes for a record-extending 10th title in Halle.
Federer advanced past Tsonga 7-6(5), 4-6, 7-5 in another high-octane contest between the two veterans who both hit their full strides at times inside Gerry Weber Stadion. Federer now leads their FedEx ATP Head2Head series 12-6.
“I had a bit of everything, happiness, sadness, frustration,” Federer said. “At the end I got very close and maybe also a little lucky. You have to be. Because at 5-all in the third on grass, on a court like this, against Jo Willi, you’re not really controlling things anymore. It was close but the crowd was fantastic. Obviously it was a great emotion at the end, which was nice.”
Tsonga had beaten Federer during their only prior grass-court meeting, coming back from two sets down in the 2011 Wimbledon quarter-finals. But the Swiss started well and looked to be en route to another straight-sets win in Germany after he converted his third set point in the opener and broke to start the second.
The top seed ran around a Tsonga second serve and belted an inside-in forehand winner down the line to gain the set and break lead. He was at his aggressive best all match, coming forward often and ending the point with swinging volleys. Federer won 16 of his 27 trips to the net (59%).
But Tsonga found his characteristic big groundstrokes in time to break in the sixth and 10th games of the second set, punishing forehands that Federer couldn't handle at net. The two were on serve until the 11th game of the deciding set, when Federer, as the fans screamed for the nine-time champion, raised his level to break once more. He ended their 18th contest with his seventh ace.
“Jo was able to pick up his game and do better especially on the return,” Federer said. “I thought it was tough but for me, the key was clearly to stay positive because I wasn't down in the score, it was just only even at one-set all, and I fought as much as I could and tried to stay with him because he really was able to pick up his game.
“I always knew it was going to be tight because he has got a great first serve. He's got all the chances to hit great forehands. He remains dangerous throughout, and I knew obviously once I gave away that lead things will get very, very tight and they did. It was a great match, great atmosphere. I really enjoyed it.”
The Swiss will next meet Spain's Roberto Bautista Agut, who beat two-time Wimbledon semi-finalist (2007, 2015) Richard Gasquet of France 6-1, 6-4. Federer is 8-0 against Bautista Agut, which includes a straight-sets win at 2015 Wimbledon, their only grass-court encounter. Bautista Agut has won only one of their 19 sets.
“Roberto wins his points differently than Jo does. Jo does it with the serve and forehand and the power and the variety and his explosiveness, whereas Roberto does it through just doing the same thing in repetition, and he's also got a great forehand like Jo has,” Federer said.
“From my side, I might have more play from the baseline, but then again we might be in more rallies on my serve, too. I'm looking forward to it. I have a good head-to-head against him and I’ve beaten him at Wimbledon once on the grass before. I hope that's going to give me some confidence.”
Kubot/Melo Save 1 M.P. In Quarter-final Win
Top seeds Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo hung tough on Thursday to defeat David Goffin and Pierre-Hugues Herbert 6-4, 6-7(4), 11-9. Kubot/Melo saved a match point at 8/9 in the Match Tie-break before prevailing in one hour and 48 minutes. They’ll play Ben McLachlan and Jan-Lennard Struff in the semi-finals, who defeated German wild cards Dustin Brown and Tim Puetz 7-6(6), 6-1.
Third seeds Nikola Mektic and Franko Skugor moved into the last four by taking out Matteo Berrettini and Jean-Julien Rojer 6-4, 7-6(6). Awaiting them in the last four are second seeds Raven Klaasen and Michael Venus, who defeated Oliver Marach and Jurgen Melzer 6-3, 7-6(9).
Did You Know?
Only 23 men in 20 years have beaten Federer on grass and only two have done so from two sets down at Wimbledon (2-78). Tsonga belongs to both of those clubs.