Djokovic saves four match points in win over Tsonga
PARIS (AP):Four times, the stands at Roland Garros were ready to erupt, a beloved Frenchman standing one point from beating the world's top player and ending his quest for history.
Four times, Novak Djokovic had an answer for Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
And so, instead of Tsonga Time at the French Open, Djokovic is still on the road to the 'Novak Slam'.
Top-seeded Djokovic overcame four match points, to say nothing of the wildly partisan crowd, for a 6-1, 5-7, 5-7, 7-6 (6), 6-1 victory over Tsonga that ended near twilight yesterday in front of drizzle-soaked stands that had quickly emptied after the match points vanished and the final set had become academic.
"There is not really any rational explanation or word that can describe what you're supposed to do when you're match points down or you're very close to losing the match,'' Djokovic said. "I guess it's trying to be mentally tough and believing in your shots.''
Djokovic did and got the win - his 26th straight in the majors.
After he converted his first match point - a backhand winner down the line - Djokovic leaned back and pumped his fists over and over.
Tsonga, the No. 5 seed who had dreams of becoming the first Frenchman to win his country's Grand Slam since Yannick Noah in 1983, sat with his head buried in a towel, while the few fans left chanted his name.
It was the end to a remarkable day of tennis that included third-seeded Roger Federer's comeback from two sets down for a 3-6, 6-7 (4), 6-2, 6-0, 6-3 win over No. 9 seed Juan Martin del Potro. It marked Federer's seventh career rally from down two sets to love. After both the winners rest their legs, they'll meet with a spot in the final on the line.
"Well, I'm very disappointed for Jo,'' Federer said. ''I would have loved to play him here in Paris. I have a feeling that the crowd would have loved to see such a match. For him, it's a disappointment. As for me, it's nothing different as from last year. I'm playing Djokovic in the semi-final.''
Djokovic's last Grand Slam loss came against Federer in that semi-final last year - a defeat that ended the Serb's 43-match winning streak.
If Federer does it again, he'll set the stage for his 17th Grand Slam tournament title, but his first since the 2010 Australian Open.
Djokovic, meanwhile, will try to set up a chance to join Rod Laver and Don Budge as the only men to hold all four Grand Slam titles at the same time.
"The good thing is that we both have two days off now to rest,'' Djokovic said. "And I hope to have another great match like we did in 2011. It's always a big challenge to play Roger. He's a fantastic player, a big champion.''
Earlier in the day, in the women's quarter-finals, No. 6 Samantha Stosur defeated No. 15 Dominika Cibulkova 6-4, 6-1 and No. 21 Sara Errani made her first Grand Slam semi-final with a 6-3, 7-6 (2) victory over 10th-seeded Angelique Kerber.