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Federer falters with two-set lead

Six-time Wimbledon champion Roger Federer says his game was “plenty good enough this year to win the tournament.”

Associated Press

Six-time Wimbledon champion Roger Federer says his game was “plenty good enough this year to win the tournament.”

WIMBLEDON, England — Pete Sampras, the greatest men's player of the 1990s, has had to be a good sport as his seemingly untouchable records have tumbled like dominoes to the all-court pressure applied by Roger Federer.

But Sampras — for now — still has the historical edge at Wimbledon. Federer, a six-time champion at the All England Club, remains one title behind his friend Sampras, and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, the acrobatic Frenchman, made certain it stayed that way this year. He did it by doing something no one has managed against Federer in a Grand Slam tournament.

Until Wednesday's quarterfinal, Federer was an astonishing 178-0 when he won the first two sets of a major singles match. But Tsonga — with his potent serve, percussive forehand and foot speed — put an end to that streak by rallying to win 3-6, 6-7 (7-3), 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 on Centre Court.

"I think my game was plenty good enough this year to win the tournament, but unfortunately there's only one who can win it, and the rest go home empty-handed," Federer said. "That's what happened to me today, but Jo played an amazing match."

For his efforts, Tsonga, a 26-year-old seeded 12th, will get to play Novak Djokovic in a semifinal Friday.

"I was feeling really strong because I never — how you say that? — panic. I was, all the time, really focused," Tsonga said. "I was not scared on big points."

The other semifinal match pits No. 4 seed Andy Murray against No. 1 Rafael Nadal for the second year in a row.

Murray defeated Feliciano Lopez, the unseeded Spanish left-hander, 6-3, 6-4, 6-4, and Nadal topped Tampa resident Mardy Fish 6-3, 6-3, 5-7, 6-4.

Tsonga had started turning things around by ripping a forehand passing winner to break Federer for the first time and take a 2-1 lead in the third set. Tsonga broke to 2-1 in the fourth with another forehand winner, then jogged to the sideline with his right fist aloft. The final break came in the fifth set's opening game, when Federer put a forehand into the net.

"I'm the kind of player who likes these big moments," Tsonga said.

Nadal, the defending champion, played on an injured left foot numbed by anesthetics.

"My foot is not fine," the top-ranked Nadal said. "But we are in quarterfinals of Wimbledon. It's an emergency, so I had to play. So we decided to (numb) a little bit the zone of the foot to play the rest of the tournament, and that's what I'm going to do. … When you (numb) the foot before the match, the anesthetic is for five hours, so you don't feel nothing."

It didn't show much either as Nadal ran along the baseline to hit numerous passing shots to counter Fish's strategy of repeatedly attacking the net. He appeared to be cruising toward an easy victory after breaking Fish to start the third set before a momentary lapse let his opponent back into the match.

Nadal hit several uncharacteristic errors to help Fish break right back, and the American broke again in the 12th game, hitting a forehand winner down the right sideline on his second set point.

In the third game of the fourth set, he set up two break points with a perfect drop shot and converted the first when Fish netted a forehand volley. He was never threatened after that and served out the match at love, finishing off his first match point with an easy volley.

"I would have liked to have served even remotely as good as I have, you know, the full tournament," Fish said.

At 29, Fish was playing in his third Grand Slam quarterfinal and first at Wimbledon. He's still waiting to reach a major semifinal.

"I'm not in this situation all the time. Further than the quarterfinals is where I wanted to go," Fish said. "I'm lacking that one huge result, that one big one where it opens everyone's eyes and says, 'Wow, I can't believe he beat him; that's a really good win.'

"I don't have that."


Quarterfinals Semifinal Championship Semifinal Quarterfinals
1. R. Nadal 12. J. Tsonga
1. R. Nadal 12. J. Tsonga
10. M. Fish 3. R. Federer
Friday, ESPN2 9 a.m. Sunday, Ch. 8 Friday, ESPN2
4. A. Murray B. Tomic
4. A. Murray 2. N. Djokovic
F. Lopez 2. N. Djokovic


Quarterfinals Semifinal Championship Semifinal Quarterfinals
24. D. Cibulkova T. Paszek
5. M. Sharapova 4. V. Azarenka
5. M. Sharapova 4. V. Azarenka
Today, ESPN2 9 a.m. Saturday, Ch. 8 Today, ESPN2
S. Lisicki 8. P. Kvitova
S. Lisicki 8. P. Kvitova
9. M. Bartoli 32. T. Pironkova


Wimbledon women's semifinals

No. 4 Victoria Azarenka vs. No. 8 Petra Kvitova, No. 5 Maria Sharapova vs. Sabine Lisicki

TV: 7 a.m., ESPN2; noon, Ch. 8


Wimbledon women's semifinals

No. 4 Victoria Azarenka vs. No. 8 Petra Kvitova, No. 5 Maria Sharapova vs. Sabine Lisicki TV: 7 a.m., ESPN2; noon, Ch. 8

Federer falters with two-set lead 06/29/11 [Last modified: Thursday, June 30, 2011 12:08am]
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