Djokovic through after epic victory over Tsonga

 

Novak Djokovic put on a stunning display of resolve to advance to the semi-finals of the French Open with a thrilling five-set victory over home favourite Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

Tsonga, playing in his first quarter-final at Roland Garros, looked out of sorts as he lost the first set in just 21 minutes, but the Frenchman produced a spirited comeback to take the next two sets.

But he then spurned four match points in the fourth set before eventually running out of steam, leaving the world number one to clinch a 6-1 5-7 5-7 7-6 (8/6) 6-1 win and set up a semi-final against Roger Federer.

Djokovic was not at his best for large parts of this match, and Tsonga will rue the opportunities he missed, but the Serbian showed exactly why he is ranked number one in the world by winning the killer points and holding his nerve while under immense pressure in front of a partisan crowd on Philippe Chatrier.

Tsonga had promised to "fight like a lion" but he performed more like a scared kitten in the opening set. He held his first service game but Djokovic moved into a 3-1 lead after the Frenchman double-faulted at 0-40.

Another break followed after Tsonga found the net with a forehand and Djokovic held to take the set 6-1.

Djokovic's dominance continued as he broke Tsonga early in the second set, but the fifth seed steadied the ship by holding for the first time since his opening game.

The Tsonga fightback then began as he grew in confidence. A long backhand from Djokovic gave the 27-year-old his first break point and he did not disappoint, powering down a fierce backhand volley to level.

Tsonga held before clinching the second set at the third time of asking when Djokovic over-hit a backhand.

Tsonga wasted a chance to make early inroads in the third set and Djokovic pounced in the following game to move 2-1 ahead.

The Serbian lost his next service game to allow Tsonga to level at 2-2, however.

Djokovic then threw away two further break points and Tsonga made him pay by clinching the third 7-5 after overcoming the favourite with a volley that was greeted with a loud raw by the Parisien crowd.

The top seed was handed two break points early in the fourth but Tsonga responded with two unreturnable serves. Tsonga showed yet more incredible resolve to send down another ace when Djokovic had a break point in the ninth game and he sent down another to leave the Serbian serving to stay in the match.

Five-time major winner Djokovic wilted under the pressure, gifting Tsonga two match points but he did not take them.

Tsonga spurned another two chances to clinch the match in the 12th game and the fourth set went to a tie-break, which Djokovic won when the fifth seed ploughed into the net.

Tsonga, physically and mentally drained from the encounter, seemed rattled and crumbled easily in the fifth.

Djokovic broke twice and clinched the match with a precision backhand to conclude the epic clash after four hours and nine minutes.

PA

Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence