MONTREAL — Jo-Wilfried Tsonga pulled out a stunning victory over world No. 1 Roger Federer and red-hot Juan Martin Del Potro followed with two-set win over No. 2-ranked Rafael Nadal on Friday to advance to the semifinals of the US$3-million Rogers Cup.
The sport’s top two stars were ousted after entering the tournament with questions about their fitness. Nadal was coming back from 10 weeks off to treat tendinitis in both knees, and Federer took time off while his wife gave birth to twins.
Down 5-1 in the third set, Tsonga used two service breaks to take the lead and then beat the Swiss ace in the tiebreaker for a 7-6 (5), 1-6, 7-6 (3) quarter-final victory.
After several long, crowd-pleasing exchanges in a first set decided in a tiebreaker, Del Potro broke Nadal’s service twice for a 3-0 lead in the second for a 7-6 (5), 6-1 win. Nadal was the defending Rogers Cup champion.
Del Potro advanced to a semifinal meeting with Andy Roddick, who he beat in the final of a tournament in Washington only last Sunday. Tsonga will face third-seeded Andy Murray, who has a chance to pass Nadal for the No. 2 world ranking.
“I did not feel real good — 5-1 down and Roger playing well and I had no solutions,” said the seventh-seeded Tsonga, who played through a sore right arm. “I just told myself ’you have to hit the ball one more time than him’ and I did it.
“It’s a good thing for me. It’s amazing to change this match.”
Federer looked to be coasting to the victory when his serve deserted him just as Tsonga seemed to rediscover his own, and the sellout crowd of 11,490 at centre court was on the edge of its seats as France’s top player battled back for the unlikely victory.
“It’s obviously disappointing but you know, that’s what Jo does — he doesn’t make a return for an hour and then he puts in a few and than all of a sudden he’s back in the match,” said Federer. “I should never have allowed it but it happened, so it’s a pity.”
Federer forced a final tiebreaker, but Tsonga used two aces to take the lead and then saw the top seed double-fault on match point.
“It’s a tough match to go through because it was either very close or very one-sided,” Federer said. “That doesn’t make it easy on the rhythm, obviously.”
Federer saw his 21-match winning streak ended, which included tournament wins at Madrid, the French Open and Wimbledon, where he claimed a record 15th career grand slam title.
There were doubts about his form coming into the Rogers Cup, but the 28-year-old looked sharp until the end of the third set, when his game went to pieces.
But overall, he wasn’t displeased with the three matches he got in at the Rogers Cup.
“It’s great to get some matches in ahead of Cincinnati (next week) and the U.S. Open,” he said. “The whole trip here was to do well and try to win the tournament.”
A year ago in Toronto, Federer came in after a post-Wimbledon break and was beaten in the first round by Frenchman Gilles Simon. He won the tournament in 2004 and 2006 and lost in the final in 2007.
Fifth-seeded Roddick recovered from a second-set service break to advance with a 6-4, 7-6 (4) victory over fourth-seeded Novak Djokovic. It was Roddick’s third win this year over the Serb. He is 4-for-4 in the tournament in tiebreakers and leads the ATP Tour with 33 tiebreaker wins.