Australian Open 2017 : Stan Wawrinka tames Jo-Wilfried Tsonga to make semi-finals
Three-time Grand Slam champion Stan Wawrinka saw off a quarter-final challenge from France's Jo Wilfried Tsonga in straight sets, 7-6(2) 6-4 6-3.
In a match involving some big serving and hitting by both players, Wawrinka upped his game when it mattered the most. Wawrinka now awaits the winner of the match between "good friend" Roger Federer and "Murray beater" Mischa Zverev.
Tsonga and Wawrinka have played each other 7 times before, with Wawrinka leading their head to head 4-3. But six of those seven meetings have come on Clay, and their only meeting on hard-courts was way back in 2007 at Metz.
With the hard hitting games that both these players possess, it was always going to be interesting to see how these players would match up against each other on Hard at present.
Tsonga begun the match with a strong love hold. It was pretty much a sign of things to come, as this was always expected to be a match devoid of too many break of serves.
Wawrinka followed suit with a hold to 15, the only point he lost coming on a double fault. And in literally a couple of minutes, we were already looking at a score of 1-1.
A delightful rally at 1-1 40-30 enabled Tsonga to hold serve and earn himself a 2-1 lead, on serve.
A couple of poor backhand errors from Wawrinka opened up a 0-30 lead for Tsonga, giving him a look at breaking Stan's serve. But Stan did well to work himself out of trouble, helped ably by a few Tsonga errors.
Both of these guys were really dominating on their serve, with Wawrinka approaching the net whenever an opportunity presented, hitting delightful volleys. The scoreline read 4-4, with Tsonga to serve.
Tsonga took cue and romped to the net at every opportunity in the next game, enabling him to hold serve to love. Wawrinka would now serve to stay in the set. Tsonga had a little look at 30-30, but Stan nicely came through for 5-5.
At 15-30 down, Tsonga came up with an unreal half-volley to avoid going 15-40 down. It was a smart hold from him after going 0-30 down. Wawrinka now would again serve to stay in the set. A routine hold, and we were headed to a tiebreak.
After having given back a mini-break that he had earned, Stan was not one to do it again. After being up 3-2, Stan produced the big time tennis he's known for. Hitting a service winner, a forehand winner, and then a backhand winner to go up 6-2. And then Tsonga gifted him the set with an unforced error.
2nd Set -
There were a few words exchanged between the two at the end of the first set. Tsonga was apparently constantly looking at Stan and saying something, to which Stan is believed to have said "It's just a tennis match. Relax a bit."
Well, that was not the worst way to start the second set, as fans would take as much excitement that comes their way.
After a couple of comfortable holds, Tsonga earned the first break points of the match, being up 15-40 on the Wawrinka serve. But Wawrinka saved both of them with some efficient tennis.
It was all good for Wawrinka until he was up 3-3 40-15, but a sudden lapse in concentration meant that he lost straight points to get broken. But being the champion that he is, he quickly regained his composure to break Tsonga to love to level things at 4-4.
After holding for 5-4, Wawrinka hit some heavy groundstrokes, drawing errors out of Tsonga. Having a look at Tsonga's serve at 15-40, he converted on the first break point itself, as Tsonga hit a very casual looking forehand long. It was 6-4 Wawrinka, looking good to make the last four.
If Tsonga had any way back in the match, it was in the first game. Stan played a bit loose, and Tsonga had two break point chances, but he squandered both. After multiple deuces, Stan held.
And then in the next game "Stanimal" showed up. And there was nothing Tsonga could do about it. Stan played some brilliant tennis to break Tsonga's serve to love, a feat that not many players can manage to achieve. One of the lobs that Stan hit in that game must have worried Federer fans a little. Stan then quickly held serve to go up 3-0.
A little more thoughtful tennis by Tsonga saw him hold serve and put himself on the scoreboard in the third set at 3-1. A routine service game from Stan helped him extend his lead to 4-1, putting him just two games away from a win.
Stan faced a break point serving at 4-2, but managed to hold on for a 5-2 lead. Wawrinka looked to be breaking Tsonga to seal a 6-2 win, but Tsonga produced a forehand crosscourt winner and an ace to delay the inevitable. Stan made sure that there were no hiccups, and comfortably cruised to a 6-3 win.