Federer keeps Tsonga at bay to set up last four meeting with Murray


TENNIS:Roger Federer yesterday fended off a withering challenge from Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga to prevail 7-6 4-6 7-6 3-6 6-3 in Rod Laver Arena and reach the semi-finals.

Seventh seed Tsonga unleashed a barrage of brilliant shot-making to level the match at two sets apiece but the Swiss maestro was composure personified as he captured the decisive break at 2-1 in the fifth.

Battling for survival, Tsonga saved four match points when serving to stay in the match, but Federer closed out victory on the fifth with an overhead smash to reach his 10th straight semi-final at Melbourne Park. Federer, seeded second, will play third seed Andy Murray tomorrow for a place in the final as he continues his bid for a fifth title at Melbourne Park.

Federer signalled his intent immediately, creating two break-points and he took the first with a blazing crosscourt return to break Tsonga in his opening service game. Tsonga, a 2008 finalist, was unbowed, however, and unleashed a searing cross-court return before out-rallying Federer to break back and take the set into a tiebreak.

The Frenchman dropped his guard, allowing Federer a 3-0 head-start and yelped in dismay after slamming a backhand into the net to concede the first set.

Federer went for the jugular in the third game of the fifth set, breaking the Frenchman and calmly marching on to keep his campaign alive for an 18th grand slam title.

Murray ruthlessly dismissed unseeded Frenchman Jeremy Chardy 6-4 6-1 6-2 to reach semi-finals for the fourth year in a row. Murray had spent just over seven hours on court in his previous four matches and only needed another 111 minutes to complete a one-sided hammering of the world number 36.

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