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LONDON: France's Jo-Wilfried Tsonga sent six-time champion Roger Federer spinning to a landmark defeat at Wimbledon on Wednesday to set up a semifinal showdown with Novak Djokovic.
The Swiss star suffered his first-ever Grand Slam loss after being two sets up. The sensational 3-6, 6-7(3), 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 result condemned six-time champion Federer to his second successive quarterfinal defeat at the All England Club.
It will also spark more doubts over the 29-year-old's ability to add to his 16 Grand Slams — the last of which came at the 2010 Australian Open — and cast a shadow over his bid to match Pete Sampras's record of seven Wimbledon titles.
But Federer, who was also beaten in the quarterfinals in 2010, insisted he was not a spent force and can capture another major title.
“I think I definitely can, yes. I wouldn't be here if it wasn't the case,” he said.
“I'm healthy. Even though I took a tough loss today, I don't feel discouraged in any way. I'll work harder than ever and hopefully come back extremely strong for Davis Cup next week and then the American summer again."
Before Wednesday, Federer had boasted a 178-0 Grand Slam win-loss record when winning the first two sets.
His only defeats from two sets to love up had come against Lleyton Hewitt in the 2003 Davis Cup final and in the 2005 Master in Shanghai against David Nalbandian.
Tsonga, who lost in the quarterfinals last year, said he surprised himself by his performance.
He was only broken once, in the second game of the match, and didn't give Federer a single break point any of the last three sets.
“It was amazing. I played unbelievable. It's never easy to come back against Roger. I'm so happy, it's crazy,” said Tsonga, whose best Grand Slam performance was runners-up spot at the 2008 Australian Open.
“He's the biggest champion in the sport. He has achieved so much and is the best player in the world. To be two sets down and come back was unbelievable. I served really well.”
Incredibly, there were no signs of the drama to come as Federer, who went into the match with a 4-1 winning record over the 12th seed, was in majestic form early on.
He cruised through the first set on Centre Court courtesy of a break in the second game, which turned out to be his only break of the dramatic afternoon.
The Swiss was in such dominant form that the opener took just 27 minutes with the former champion firing 12 winners, remaining error-free in the process.
Tsonga, playing in his second successive Wimbledon quarterfinal, was more solid in the second, but buckled in the tiebreak which Federer was never going to relinquish once he had taken a 5-1 lead.
But the Frenchman, whose career has been blighted by a series of injuries, broke for the first time to lead 2-1 in the third set with a searing forehand down the line.
He then held his nerve in the 10th game where he needed a fourth set point to cut the deficit.
Tsonga was now in the ascendancy and broke to lead 2-1 in the fourth set as Federer, who had lost just two service games in his previous four rounds, was being out-hit by his muscular opponent.
A 14th ace from Tsonga gave him the set 6-4 and the quarterfinal was all-square.
Federer was almost on his knees, broken again to trail 1-0 at the start of the decider before Tsonga surged away to capture a famous win in the 10th game when the former World No.1 wearily mis-hit a service return.
Murray meets Nadal
British fourth seed Andy Murray reached the semifinals with a 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 win over Spain's Feliciano Lopez. Murray will face the top seed Rafael Nadal for a place in the final.
Murray, who has lost in the semifinals for the last two years, is bidding to become the first British winner of the men's singles title since Fred Perry in 1936.
Defending champion Nadal overcame American 10th seed Mardy Fish 6-3, 6-3, 5-7, 6-4. The Spanish World No.1, who suffered an injury scare in his fourth round victory over Juan Martin del Potro on Monday, showed no signs of discomfort as he eased past his Florida-based opponent.
Djokovic was well below his best for long periods in a tense quarterfinal clash on Court One, but the World No.2 showed all his battling qualities to finally subdue Bernard Tomic of Australia 6-2, 3-6, 6-3, 7-5. The Serbian second seed has now reached five successive Grand Slam semifinals.
Perfect day for Sania
Meanwhile, Sania Mirza experienced a perfect day as she reached the women's doubles semifinals for the first time in her career before advancing in the mixed doubles third round along with compatriot Rohan Bopanna.
Sania and her Russian partner Elena Vesnina, seeded fourth in the tournament, came from behind to beat unseeded Spanish pair of Nuria Llagostera Vives and Arantxa Parra Santonja 3-6, 6-4, 7-5 in the women's doubles quarter—final.
Later in the day, Sania and Bopanna scored a 7-5, 6-2 win over Jamie Murray of Great Britain and Jarmila Gajdosova of Australia in the second round.
After winning the first set in tie-break, the Indian duo broke its opponents in the second game of the second set to take a 3-0 lead.
Sania and Bopanna were then up 5-2 before breaking their opponents' serve once again to take the second set 6-2 and seal a place in the third round. — Agencies
Men (quarterfinals): Singles: 12- Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (Fra) bt 3-Roger Federer (Sui) 3-6, 6-7(3), 6-4, 6-4, 6-4; 2-Novak Djokovic (Srb) bt Bernard Tomic (Aus) 6-2, 3-6, 6-3, 7-5.
4-Andy Murray (GBR) bt Feliciano Lopez (Esp) 6-3, 6-4, 6-4; 1-Rafael Nadal (Esp) bt 10-Mardy Fish (USA) 6-3, 6-3, 5-7, 6-4
Doubles: Christopher Kas (Ger) & Alexander Peya (Aut) bt Colin Fleming & Ross Hutchins (GBR) 4-6, 4-6, 7-6(2), 6-2, 4-6; 8-Robert Lindsted (Swe) & Horia Tecau (Rou) bt Arnaud Clement (Fra) & Lukas Dlouhy (Cze) 6-3, 1-6, 6-4, 4-6, 10-12.
Women (quarterfinals): Singles: 4-Victoria Azarenka (Blr) bt Tamira Paszek (Aut) 6-3, 6-1.
Doubles: 4-Sania Mirza & Elena Vesnina (Rus) bt Nuria Llagostera Vives & Arantxa Parra Santonja (Esp) 3-6, 6-4, 7-5; Marina Erakovic (NZ) & Tamarine Tanasugarn (Tha) bt 3-Liezel Huber & Lisa Raymond (USA) 4-6, 7-6(1), 13-11.
Mixed doubles: Second round: 6-Rohan Bopanna & Sania Mirza (Ind) bt Jamie Murray (GBR) & Jarmila Gajdosova (Aus) 7-6(5), 6-2 .
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