WIMBLEDON, England — Roger Federer was eliminated in the Wimbledon quarter-finals for the second straight year Wednesday, squandering a two-set lead for the first time at a Grand Slam tournament and losing to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 3-6, 6-7 (3), 6-4, 6-4, 6-4.
The six-time Wimbledon champion barely looked challenged while winning the first two sets against the 12th-seeded Frenchman. But Federer, who had been 178-0 in matches in which he had won the opening two sets at a major tournament, was broken one time in each of the last three sets.
“It’s kind of hard going out of the tournament that way, but unfortunately it does happen sometimes,” said Federer, who was playing in his 29th straight major quarter-final. “At least it took him sort of a special performance to beat me, which is somewhat nice.”
Federer may be right. The 16-time Grand Slam champion finished the match with only 11 unforced errors, half as many as Tsonga, but it didn’t help him get close to breaking Tsonga’s serve when he needed it.
“I was two sets down and I break. I did a good game of return and after that it was just amazing,” said Tsonga, who had 63 winners, five more than Federer. “I just played unbelievable, served unbelievable and now I’m here, I’m in semifinal and I can’t believe it.”
In the next round, Tsonga will face second-seeded Novak Djokovic, who defeated 18-year-old Australian qualifier Bernard Tomic 6-2, 3-6, 6-3, 7-5.
Defending champion Rafael Nadal also advanced, beating Mardy Fish 6-3, 6-3, 5-7, 6-4. The two-time champion will face fourth-seeded Andy Murray in the semifinals. Murray defeated Feliciano Lopez 6-3, 6-4, 6-4.
In second-round girls’ play, fifth-seeded Eugenie Bouchard of Montreal defeated Barbara Haas of Austria, 6-0, 6-3.
Federer was seeking a record-equalling seventh Wimbledon title this year. He breezed through his opening four matches, losing only one set, and played his usual elegant game against Tsonga.
In the first set, Federer earned his one and only break point of the match in Tsonga’s first service game, and converted it. He held the rest of the way, and then won the second set in the tiebreaker.
But Tsonga finally got his first break in the third set, and another in the fourth and another in the fifth. Those were the Frenchman’s only three breaks.
“He can come up with some good stuff and some poor things at times,” Federer said. “He had basically good return games along the way in the third, fourth, and fifth. I think especially the third set, the break I get is very unusual. He chips back a couple, they stay in.”
Federer has won six titles at the All England Club, including five in a row from 2003-07. He lost to Nadal in the 2008 final in what is considered by many to be one of the greatest matches ever, and then beat Andy Roddick for the championship a year later, winning 16-14 in the fifth set.
Last year, he lost to eventual runner-up Tomas Berdych in the quarter-finals.
“It’s the biggest champion in my sport,” Tsonga said. “He achieved a lot of things and he’s just the best player in the world and I’m just so happy to win against him, especially on grass because it’s maybe one of his favourite surface and I’m just so happy today.”
Instead of Federer improving on his record haul of major titles, 10-time Grand Slam champion Nadal can add to his own.
The top-seeded Spaniard lost one set but did not appear to be bothered by the left foot injury he sustained in his previous match against Juan Martin del Potro.
“Today it was better. The treatment worked and I’m fine. I’m here,” Nadal said. “The previous match was tough for me because for a moment I didn’t know if I had a serious injury but since (it’s) nothing important (it’s) probably going to work.”
On Court 1, Djokovic overcame a tough match against his protege, holding on to reach the semifinals for the third time in his career.
Djokovic has been practising with Tomic on-and-off since the two became friends last year in Australia, but this was the first meeting between the two in a competitive match.
After Tomic put a forehand into the net on match point, the pair had a brief chat at the net. Then, with the crowd applauding, Djokovic did the same while motioning toward Tomic.
“It was a very even match. In the first set I felt I played quite well,” said Djokovic, who finished the match with fewer winners than Tomic, 43-39. “Then I played one really bad service game and he got back into the match. And from that moment on, he was the better player.”
Djokovic started the 2011 season by winning 41 straight matches, but that came to an end with a loss to Federer in the French Open semifinals. If the Serb reaches the final at the All England Club for the first time this year, he will guarantee himself the No. 1 ranking. He can also claim the top ranking if Nadal fails to defend his title.
Tomic was the youngest man to start in the men’s draw this year, and he’s the youngest to reach the Wimbledon quarter-finals since Boris Becker defended his title in 1986.
Murray is trying to become the first British man to win the Wimbledon title since Fred Perry in 1936. And against Lopez, he was never really bothered.
He saved the two break points he faced, both in the third set, and finished off the match by winning the final game at love.
“I’ve played a little bit better every year I’ve come here,” said Murray, who is in the semifinals for the third straight year. “I want to go further.”