LONDON, (Reuters) – Roger Federer’s dreams of a seventh Wimbledon title were shattered by an extraordinary comeback from Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga who won an epic quarter-final 3-6 6-7 6-4 6-4 6-4 today.
It was the first time the third seed has lost a grand slam match having been two sets up and it condemned the 16-times major champion to a second Wimbledon quarter-final exit in a row.
“It was just amazing today, I played unbelievable, everything was in,” Tsonga said in a televised interview.
“That’s crazy, he is the biggest champion in my sport, he achieved a lot of things. He is the best player in the world and I’m just so happy to beat him, especially on grass as it is one of his best surfaces.”
Federer, bidding for a record-equalling seventh title, glided through the first set and never looked in danger in the second set or tiebreak as Tsonga showed few signs that he was capable of making a scrap of it.
However, the 12th seed soon found his groove with his immense energy and athleticism suddenly worrying Federer, who was dumped out by Tomas Berdych at the same stage last year.
Tsonga broke for 2-1 in the third and fourth sets and held out thanks to some rasping groundstrokes and trademark volleys.
His raw power threatened to completely stifle Federer, who failed to raise his game and slipped a break down at the start of the fifth set when he netted.
Federer could do nothing to halt Tsonga’s momentum with the Frenchman piling into every stroke with all his might to reach a third grand slam semi and set up a meeting with Novak Djokovic on Friday.
LACK OF EMOTION
“I think Jo played great from start to finish, I don’t remember a break point after the first game,” Federer told a news conference.
“Except the score, many, many things went right. I’m pretty pleased with my performance, it’s hard going out of the tournament that way. I think he played an amazing match, he didn’t give me many chances.”
One of the keys to Federer’s incredible success over the years has been his coolness under pressure but it was his very lack of emotion as the match began to slip away which seemed to be his undoing.
When other players would have slammed the racket against the ground or screamed at themselves to snap out of their malaise, the 29-year-old passively continued to play the same way despite desperately needing a break.
In contrast, Tsonga looked a beaten man at the end of the second set but somehow found a second wind with the Centre Court crowd urging him on despite their attachment to Federer.
The Frenchman loves to dive around on the grass and his entertainment value meant the fans, including golf great Jack Nicklaus, were enthralled by his stunning comeback.
“I thought my game was plenty good enough to win the tournament,” Federer said, indicating his will carry on fighting despite not winning a grand slam since the 2010 Australian Open.