By Alana Mitchelson
(January 20, 2014) MELBOURNE – Without having dropped even a single set on his road to the quarterfinals, Roger Federer has set up yet another clash with old rival Andy Murray this Wednesday after defeating Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in straight, 6-3, 7-5, 6-4, on Monday night.
The crowd roared in anticipation of the first true high-profile match of the tournament. From the get-go, Federer was focused in the moment, reading the motion of the ball and setting up opportunities to approach the net for cross-court winner volleys. The serve and volley tactics, reminiscent of his earlier days in the field, became a theme of his service games and saw him to hold each and every one of his serves.
Tsonga began attacking Federer’s backhand which was perhaps not at its strongest that evening. But with the exception of seizing a couple of break point opportunities here and there, Tsonga did not come close to backing up such chances at crucial moments or breaking ahead to a comfortable position on the scoreboard.
The former world No. 1 exhibited elegant shot-making of astounding precision and it was refreshing to watch him mix in the occasional net play rather than remain baseline bound for which he has become known in more recent times.
While Tsonga hit some breathtaking winners, he was shockingly inconsistent, claiming only about half of the points upon his second serve, and he failed to play anywhere near aggressively enough to pose any threat to the great Roger Federer.
“Don’t think I got broken today. That, against a great player. So I’m extremely happy with how things went for me tonight. I was able to play my game, offensive, mix it up, come to the net,” Federer said.
“I was good at net. I was consistent. I was solid. I was quick. I had the right mindset. I think the plan definitely worked out well for me tonight.
“I definitely felt like momentum was on my side, no doubt. I started the match well.”
This rising momentum worked against the Frenchman as the crowd often began to applaud a would-be-winner of Tsonga’s only to disband into a thrill of cheers as Federer would somehow manage to hit the ball back over the net.
Federer, however, identified some aspects of his game he could indeed improve on moving forward.
“I had some missed opportunities midway through the second set. I think I twice had 0-30, so I thought I could have done a bit better. But Jo did well to hang around and serve well when he had to.”
Reaching the quarterfinal round at the Australian Open for the eleventh year straight, the Swiss will contest Murray for a position in the semifinals. Federer is eagerly awaiting the challenge.
”I think we’re both coming into this match with a good feeling. We’re both coming into this match, though, with some doubts slightly. I don’t know how he’s feeling. I haven’t seen him play much, to be quite honest.
“It will be interesting because we both had an interesting year last year with some ups and downs. It’s a good start to the season for both of us already.”
Alana Mitchelson is a Melbourne-based freelance journalist covering the Australian Open for Tennis Panorama News. Follow her tournament updates on Twitter @TennisNewsTPN and read her personal website.