Next for Tsonga will be No. 4 David Ferrer, who stopped the wild ride of No. 32 Tommy Robredo 6-2, 6-1, 6-1 in an all-Spanish quarterfinal. Robredo won each of his previous three matches despite dropping the first two sets, the first man since 1927 to do that a Grand Slam tournament.
“I wasn’t 100 percent ready to fight” on Tuesday after so many lengthy matches, Robredo said, adding: “And playing with a guy like David, who is a machine, it’s very tough to be like that.”
It was a common sentiment.
Federer hadn’t lost in straight sets before the semifinals at any Grand Slam tournament since a third-round defeat against three-time champion Gustavo Kuerten in the 2004 French Open.
Starting a month later, when he won Wimbledon, Federer began a stretch of nearly eight full years in which he was unbeaten in Grand Slam quarterfinals, reaching at least the semifinals at a record 23 major tournaments in a row. Since that run ended, though, quarterfinal exits are becoming a regular occurrence: He has lost at that stage in five of the past 13 Slams, twice to Tsonga, who was the runner-up at the 2008 Australian Open and is trying to give France its first men’s champion at Roland Garros since Yannick Noah 30 years ago.
“He’s got a big game. He takes time away from you,” Federer said. “He can change defense to offense very quickly. Similar traits to what I have, I guess, really.”
Quite a compliment.
Federer struggled in the fourth round Sunday against another Frenchman, 15th-seeded Gilles Simon, needed five sets to win after taking an awkward tumble and falling behind 2-1 in sets. But Federer said after Tuesday’s loss he was fine physically.
His game was not fine, not at all, on this day. And Tsonga took full advantage.
“Sports, it’s beautiful, because you can always do something. Even if you play, you know, the best player in the world … you have a chance,” Tsonga said. “Because the guy in front of you (has) two legs, two arms, one head.”
And, well, Roger Federer, now 31, sure does seem more human on a tennis court these days than he used to.