Allez Jo! Tsonga Ousts Federer
France’s Jo-Wilfried Tsonga reached the semi-finals of the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters on Friday as he battled to upset Roger Federer 3-6, 6-2, 7-5.
The eighth-seeded Tsonga held his nerve to edge Federer in just over two hours, claiming sixth win in 17 meetings with the Swiss.
Tsonga will face countryman Gael Monfils on Saturday for a place in his first tour-level clay-court final.
Playing this week in his first tournament since the Australian Open, Federer made a strong start to the match, breaking Tsonga three times to wrap up the opener. But the Swiss could not keep up his momentum, immediately dropping serve to open the second set. Trailing 1-4, Federer recouped one of the breaks, but Tsonga broke again in the seventh game before levelling the match.
The third set was a tight affair, with neither player creating a break point until the 11th game, when Tsonga broke Federer to 15 before serving out a memorable victory on Court Ranier III.
“It’s always special to win against Federer,” said Tsonga. “I’m in the semis. I’m happy that I’m still in the tournament and I have a chance to go to the final for the first time.
“I was expecting a difficult match, and that is exactly what happened. He was very reactive, he was running well. From the start, I thought he was very fast. But I was able to turn it around. He dropped his level a little bit and I was able to come back into the match and end up winning. It’s good for me.
“For me the important thing now is to concentrate on what is coming. It was very important to win today. Now I need to prepare for tomorrow.”
The 30-year-old Tsonga also reached the final four at the Monte-Carlo Country Club in 2013, falling to Rafael Nadal. He claimed his 39th Top 10 win (39-73 record) and first in Monte-Carlo after going 0-3 in the past three years.
Federer was making his comeback in Monte-Carlo after undergoing arthroscopic surgery for a torn meniscus in his left knee after reaching the Australian Open semi-finals. His scheduled comeback in Miami was delayed due to illness.
“I think [the match] definitely had some twists and turns. I’m not sure how come. Maybe we were both a bit up and down. We had a couple of games here and there that we kind of gave each other on the serve.
“Third [set] was close all the way through. The game I got broken is a tough game to get broken on because I think I had three forehands that I’m in good position, and I end up losing all three points. It’s a tough break to get.
“It was a good tournament, a good match, exactly what I was hoping for and more, so I’m very happy.”
The Basel native was contesting his eighth quarter-final in 13 visits to Monte-Carlo and is a four-time runner-up at the third ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournament of the year.