Federer in his new black-pink shoes has won fifth match this year and advances to his 10th (!) Australian Open semifinal in a row. It was an entertaining duel between two most technically diversified Top 10 players, but what significantly separates them is the backhand. Tsonga still struggles with his left side, and Federer exposed it at the most important moments. Actually the scoreline is a bit deceptive because Federer had under control all sets he won from start to finish, Tsonga hung in there with a considerable help of serves (20 aces, Federer just 6). On both tie-break sets the Swiss dropped a 2:0 lead (Tsonga snapped Federer’s 57-game winning streak on serve in the 1st set), in the 5th set he squandered a double break point for a second break twice (at 4:1 & 5:2). He needed five match points in total to finish Tsonga off with an overhead. Very nice revenge for a Wimbledon quarterfinal defeat in 2011, when Tsonga stormed back from a two-sets-to-love deficit. “I love playing against Andy. He’s tactical and he’s a good guy” said Federer on playing Murray in the semifinal.
(3)Andy Murray d. Jeremy Chardy 6-4, 6-1, 6-2 [1:52 h]
When they met the previous time (Cincinnati ’12), Chardy notched a comprehensive 6-4 6-4 win, but that match couldn’t be an indicator of Chardy’s chances today, because Murray was spent physically and emotionally then, after obtaining two medals at the Olympics… Advancing to quarterfinals of a major, Chardy entered a new territory for himself and nervousness of a newbie was manifested as early as in the opening game as he committed two double faults and made an awful backhand-volley error from comfortable position trying to save a break point. He managed to subdue his nerves and improved in the 1st set from *0:4 (15-all) to 4:5* (30/0), but everything depended on Murray’s brain and hands. Generally speaking the Scot was merciless in exposing Chardy’s backhand hole. The Frenchman needed a lucky net-cord to snap a 9-game losing streak between 2nd & 3rd sets. Murray moves through to the Australian Open semifinals fourth straight year, just like three years ago not dropping a set. Inferior opponents have been gone, if he wins the tournament he will be forced to a bigger effort in the next two matches for sure. Murray: “I thought I did a pretty good job throughout the match. Few games I could have done better on but overall pretty good.“
597th main-level match for both! If someone counted on Berdych’s good start thinking that he hadn’t dropped a set in his four matches while Djokovic had played a 5-hour marathon with Wawrinka two days before, was simply wrong. From the beginning no signs of Djokovic’s tiredness, he was moving very well, hitting the ball clearly and intelligently, mixing the pace by flat backhands and top-spin safe forehands. Berdych found the right rhythm as the 2nd set started and an early break in the opening game gave him the set, however, Djokovic almost broke back in the 10th game – Berdych saved four break points showing guts because he struck three winners in the process, pressure was higher as had wasted a set point in the previous game. Intensity at the end of the set cost him a long lapse of concentration. Afterwardsthe Serb gained three breaks without exceptional involvement, only when he was serving to win the match, Berdych showed some reminiscence of his 2nd set positive attitude. It caused that Djokovic needed as many as four match points to wrap up the victory with an ace down the T. The best player in the world reaches 11th consecutive major semifinal, Berdych loses QF in Australia third year in succession, he’s so consistent that even two years ago lost sets 1st & 3rd 1-6 to the Serb on the same court (also night session, stayed on court one minute longer). Djokovic remarked: “I was very aggressive out there, going for my shots, which wasn’t the case against Wawrinka. So it’s a good improvement and very encouraging for next match.”
Almagro could have screamed in despair at the end of the match “How many times?!” (Janowicz’s catch-phrase) referring to numerous chances he can’t convert facing Ferrer, who could have thought at the same time “Some things have never change” with sarcastic smile… Two Spaniards clothed in white-yellow colors under the friendly Sun (25 Celsius), and a script which had been worked out by them several times in the past… Almagro was very close to notch a perfect straight sets victory: he was serving firmly, hitting forehand precisely, and what’s the most important in my opinion – creating different angles with his top-spin backhand to prevent Ferrer from that what he does the best – dictating the pace with cross-court forehands in both directions. Almagro had three break point chances, converted them all, and was serving at 5:4 in the 3rd set, something in two previous setshe dealt very well with. This time his arm was “heavier”, couldn’t deliver first serves and lost the game despite being two points away from the new ground. Ferrer got a 5-game winning streak, and the match seemed administrated by him. Almagro reminded himself that in the last couple of years he won matches losing a “won set” which helped him to get a break for a 2:1 lead. He couldn’t capitalize though, it was repeated three times more in the 4th set (!), he was serving twice to book his place in the semifinals – leading 5:4 & 6:5, but every time he choked it. In the 10th game he was two points away again. In the tie-break Ferrer raced to a 3:1 lead, Almagro got back on level terms with two stunning shots, the second one cost him pain in the left groin. If he had been a fighter (or if he’d known Ferrer was on a 13-tie-break losing streak in Melbourne), he would have done everything to close the match out being still relatively close – four points away, but he is not… and during the change of ends he looked more like a guy who had an excuse why he was going to lose once more a potentially winning match. Even though Almagro held his two opening service games of the decider, his body language suggested he was out of sorts and Ferrer’s triumph only a matter of time. The older Spaniard sensed it, stepped up when it mattered, and took the last five games of the quarterfinal. Almagro’s 13th consecutive loss to Ferrer, fourth in a match that should have really won (twice lost match points, two other times served for the match: twice in the Valencia final ’08, thrice today). “I’m [disappointed] with the tie-break, but I need to work more to be ready to play with the top players,” said Almagro. “Today was a big opportunity for me. I’m going to work to be ready for the next [opportunity].” He joins a group of multi Grand Slam quarter-finalists to have never advanced to semifinals #. Ferrer becomes fifth active player to win 500 matches.
5-set barometer:21-16 Roger Federer, 18-9 David Ferrer, 13-10 Nicolas Almagro, 8-5 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
# Most quarterfinals at majors without a semifinal:
5 – Guy Forget (Australian Open 1991, 93; Wimbledon 1991, 92, 94) 5 – Tommy Robredo (Australian Open 2007; Roland Garros 2003, 05, 07, 09)
4 – Roy Emerson (Australian Open 1971; Roland Garros 1968; Wimbledon 1970; US Open 1969) *
4 – Fred Stolle (Australian Open 1969; Roland Garros 1969; US Open 1969, 72) * 4 – Wojtek Fibak (Roland Garros 1977, 80; Wimbledon 1980; US Open 1980) 4 – Vijay Amtritraj (Wimbledon 1973, 81; US Open 1973-74) 4 – Eliot Teltscher (Australian Open 1983; US Open 1980, 81, 83) 4 – Gene Mayer (Wimbledon 1980, 82; US Open 1982, 84) 4 – Younes El Aynaoui (Australian Open 2000, 03; US Open 2002-03) 4 – Hicham Arazi (Australian Open 2000, 04; Roland Garros 1997-98) 4 – Nicolas Almagro (Australian Open 2013; Roland Garros 2008, 10, 12)
* Emerson & Stolle won majors in the pre-Open era, 12 & 2 respectively