Federer outlasts Tsonga, Murray strolls
Roger Federer survived a searching examination from Jo-Wilfried Tsonga to win a gripping five-setter on Wednesday and set up an Australian Open semifinal against Andy Murray.
The Swiss world No 2 was pushed all the way and needed five match points before dousing seventh-seeded Tsonga to win 7-6(4), 4-6, 7-6(4), 3-6, 6-3 in 3hr 34min on Rod Laver Arena.
His victory has set up a rematch of last year's Wimbledon final with third seed Murray in Friday's semifinal.
World No 1 Novak Djokovic will play Spanish fourth seed David Ferrer in the other semifinal on Thursday.
It was Federer's composure under pressure that won the day in the fifth set against the explosive Frenchman, who frequently gave the Swiss great problems with his all-court game.
Federer handled the tension of the deciding set and got a crucial break in the fourth game to take control, but was forced to five match points before he could put Tsonga away to improve his five-set record to 21-16.
"It was a tough close, for sure, the whole match was tough and any set could have gone either way," Federer said. "It's tough because you never know what Joe is going to come up with.
"I hit three great serves there in the fifth set and every time he got them back, and that's what he can do and that's why he remains dangerous throughout a match."
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Federer has now reached the semifinals at the Australian Open for the 10th straight year and also extended his record number of Grand Slam semifinal appearances to 33.
The Swiss great is bidding to become only the second man to win five Australian titles behind Australian Roy Emerson, who won six in the 1960s.
Federer began well breaking Tsonga's opening service game but the Frenchman hit back with the Swiss losing his serve for the first time in the tournament.
The set went to a tiebreaker and Federer played the big points the better to go one up after 50 minutes.
The athletic Tsonga took the second set after breaking Federer in the seventh.
Both players exchanged breaks early in the third set and again it went to a tiebreaker.
Once again the world No 2 revelled on the pressure moments and took the set after a magnificent retrieve which forced Tsonga to hit out and hand Federer a two sets to one lead.
Tsonga fought back with two more service breaks to take the match into a fifth set but Federer was more consistent on the big points to get home.
MURRAY STROLLS THROUGH
Murray beat Jeremy Chardy earlier on Wednesday to reach the semifinals without dropping a set, and then shrugged off concerns he will be undercooked for the battles ahead.
The British third seed was too strong and accomplished for the unseeded Frenchman, winning 6-4, 6-1, 6-2 in 1hr 51min on Rod Laver Arena.
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Murray rated the win, which put him into his fourth consecutive Australian Open semifinal, as his best performance yet and said he had no fears about a lack of a tough work-out heading into the tournament's late stages.
Murray has only spent 8hr 56min on court in total for his five matches at this year's Open, and faces a potential semifinal against 17-time Grand Slam champion Federer, who beat him in last year's Wimbledon final.
The victory took the Scot's winning streak at the majors to 12 since his breakthrough US Open triumph in New York last September, and put him into his 12th Grand Slam semifinal.
"For me today was a decent test. I played a lot of tennis in December. I had some good (lead-up) matches in Brisbane. So I can't be disappointed about being in the semis of a slam without dropping a set. That would be silly," he said.
"I think you have to trust yourself that when you are tested you're going to play better tennis. You never know for sure. But in the build-up to the tournament I played very well. I haven't lost a set here yet.
"I've done a good job so far in this tournament. I can't be disappointed with where my game's at and I hope the next round I play better again."
Murray broke Chardy's service eight times and played a clean match with 32 winners against 20 unforced errors.
"Today was the best I've played. I've struggled in my last few rounds a little bit, my last opponent (Gilles Simon) was injured so it wasn't much of a match as he struggled physically," Murray said.
"Jeremy's had a great tournament, he's beat some top players so I needed to come out sharp and get off to a good start."
Murray broke Chardy's opening two service games, before dropping his own in the sixth, and claimed the opening set on his third set point in 44 minutes.
Murray got stronger as the match progressed and Chardy began to fade, and he broke the Frenchman's serve three times to stroll through the second set in 32 minutes.
Murray got two more service breaks to lead 5-1 in the final set, but was broken as he attempted to serve out for the match. His victory was clinched in Chardy's next service game, winning it on his first match point.
Chardy, who beat former US Open champion Juan Martin Del Potro and 21st seed Andreas Seppi on his way to his first Grand Slam quarterfinal, was happy despite the loss.
"I played a good match, but he was too good for me," Chardy said. "I thought I would try many things, but I had no chance. He was too good. I played a good tournament, so I'm still happy."