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TENNIS > Tsonga sets up Djokovic last-eight clash

PARIS - Agence France-Presse

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Home favorite Jo-Wilfried Tsonga celebrates reaching the French Open quarterfinals for the first time in his career after winning his fourth round match against Wawrinka. AP photo

Home favorite Jo-Wilfried Tsonga celebrates reaching the French Open quarterfinals for the first time in his career after winning his fourth round match against Wawrinka. AP photo

France’s fifth seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga defeated Stanislas Wawrinka 6-4, 7-6 (8/6), 3-6, 3-6, 6-4 yesterday to reach the French Open quarterfinals for the first time where he will face top seed Novak Djokovic.

The players had to return to Philippe Chatrier court for a second day after Sunday’s action was halted because of fading light with Tsonga 4-2 up in the decider.

When they returned yesterday, Wawrinka pulled level for 4-4 but Tsonga claimed victory when Wawrinka went wide with a backhand.

Wawrinka had defeated Tsonga from two sets to love down in the third round last year.

But he had struggled early in Sunday’s action, and even required extensive treatment on his back when he trailed 3-5 in the second set.

The 18th-seeded Swiss dug deep into the resources which carried him through two five-setters in the first three rounds to eventually level the tie at two sets each as the light faded.

Tsonga, however, broke for a crucial 3-1 lead in the decider and was 4-2 up when play was halted for darkness.

Meanwhile, Nicolas Almagro of Spain reached the quarterfinals with a dominant 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 win over Janko Tipsarevic of Serbia.

The 12th seed will play either second seed and defending champion Rafael Nadal of Spain or Juan Monaco of Argentina for a place in the semifinals.

The 26-year-old Almagro had reached the French Open quarterfinals twice before in 2008 and 2010, losing to Nadal in both instances, but was knocked off in the first round last year.

Any memories of his dismal 2011 campaign were forgotten as Almagro fired off four aces -- out of nine in the entire match -- against Tipsarevic to clinch the first set, and he never looked back.

In the second set, the Spaniard successfully set up break point in the seventh game to nose ahead 4-3 with a lucky forehand return that barely made it over the net and wrong-footed the Serb.

Almagro, who was on a seven-match winning streak going into the match including victories at Sao Paulo and Nice, finished off the set with another ace down the middle.

In the third set, Almagro got his first break early when he forced Tipsarevic into net errors in the first game, but he was broken in the next when he double-faulted.

Tipsarevic managed to hold in the third game despite notching his fifth double fault but the Spaniard’s answer was another ace to level the match 2-2.

Almagro broke Tipsarevic again in the fifth game with a vicious backhand return that forced the Serb to return wide -- and his fate was sealed.

Serving for the match, Almagro punctuated his victory with a cross-court forehand winner to an open court that Tipsarevic did not even bother to chase.

June/05/2012

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