Not even the fans sitting in Court Philippe Chatrier could believe what they were seeing. No. 8 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, the last Frenchman standing, thoroughly outclassed Roger Federer in the French Open quarterfinals, defeating the No. 2 seed 7-5, 6-3, 6-3. With the win, Tsonga becomes the first Frenchman into the semifinals in five years. If he defeats No. 4 seed David Ferrer, he would become the first Frenchman to reach the final in 25 years.
It was just Tsonga’s fourth career win over Federer, but it’s the second time he’s knocked him off at a Slam. Tsonga said he and coach Roger Rasheed prepared for the match by watching footage of Rafael Nadal’s matches against Federer to identify the ways Nadal has troubled the Swiss over the years. “I tried to do the same. Today it worked.”
“I thought he played great today,” Federer said. “He was, you know, in all areas better than me today. That’s why the result was pretty clean. You know, no doubt about it. I was impressed by the way he played today.”
Tsonga played a steady, clean match over the course of the two hours, hitting 26 winners to just 22 unforced errors. Federer, on the other hand, littered the stat sheet with 34 unforced errors to 25 winners, and a surprisingly low 50 percent success rate at the net (15 for 30). By the time the third set came around, Federer was missing overhead smashes repeatedly and struggled in the face of Tsonga’s offensive pressure.
“I think I struggled a little bit everywhere,” Federer said. “To be honest, personally, I’m pretty sad about the match and the way I played.”
The match lasted a mere 1 hour, 51 minutes, and Federer was left scratching his head to identify where things all went wrong. He played a five-set match against Gilles Simon (6-1, 4-6, 2-6, 6-2, 6-3) in the fourth round but said he was physically fine Tuesday.
“I’m disappointed,” Federer said. “Perhaps more disappointed than in the past when I was defeated in the past. Maybe I could have played better. Why did I lose? These are the questions you ask yourself. But, you know, you have to digest this loss and then get ready for the next match. It’s simple.”
“[S]ports, it’s beautiful because you can always do something,” Tsonga said, who showed no signs of wavering has he got closer to the finish line. “Even if you play, you know, the best player in the world or anybody, you know, you have a chance. Because the guy in front of you have two legs, two arms, one head. That’s it.”
Federer will now turn his eyes to Wimbledon, where he’s the defending champion and going for his eighth title at the All England Club. But first he will take a few days off and then head to Halle for a grass warm-up tournament next week.
Here are some of the best photos from Tsonga’s big upset:
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