Swiss sets up mouth-watering semi-final with Frenchman, who beat him at Wimbledon 2010
Roger Federer scored a 20th successive win which carried him into his sixth semi-final in six tries at the Qatar Open and a re-match with the man with whom he played one of the all-time great Grand Slam matches.
Switzerland's Roger Federer returns to Italian Andreas Seppi during their Qatar Open quarter-final in Doha yesterday. Pic/AFP
Federer's 6-3, 5-7, 6-4 success against Andreas Seppi earned another meeting with Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, the Frenchman who came from two sets down to beat him at Wimbledon last year and lost to him only narrowly in the final of the ATP World Tour finals.
"I am looking forward to playing him (Tsonga) again," said Federer. "I hope it will be a good season for both of us. He's always a nice guy to see play, and a nice guy off the court as well -- so I hope we can live up to expectations."
It was an up-and down performance yesterday by the Grand Slam record-holder against the top 40 Italian who often rallied elegantly and expertly from the baseline without having overwhelming weapons. Federer sometimes played a little ambitiously even for him in the second set, going 1-5 down, and recovering to 5-5 before somehow still losing it.
He broke serve early in the third set and held the advantage till the end, but his excellent first serving and passages of brilliance were marred by a total of 41 unforced errors. Earlier World No 6 Tsonga made possible the rematch as he beat Albert Ramos of Spain 6-2, 6-1.
Tsonga did little wrong against a surprise survivor who was increasingly pressured into attempting too much, thereby raising his ratio of mistakes to self-destructive levels. The Frenchman also produced a combination of excellent serving, consistent ground-stroking, and conspicuous calm, all of which augured well for his meeting with Federer.
Tsonga's celebration, extravagant for so relatively modest a success, may have indicated how much he is looking forward to playing the Grand Slam record-holder.
When asked about it, he said: "You will see when I win the tournament." About Federer, he said: "Federer is the best player in the world, probably ever, and it will be difficult to play him," Tsonga said. "You have to be perfect. I have to play my best tennis. But I know I can do it. I have done it already," said Tsonga in reference to his sensational 3-6, 6-7 (3/7), 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 win over Federer in the Wimbledon quarter-finals in July.