March 8, 2014
Tennis — Australian OpenTuesday, January 21, 2014
Federer reaches major quarters for 41st time
Equals Jimmy Connors’ record
A majestic Roger Federer emphatically returned to the grand slam by trouncing Jo Wilfried-Tsonga 6-3 7-5 6-4 at the Australian Open to book a quarterfinal with Andy Murray. The Swiss equalled Jimmy Connors’ Open-era record with his 41st trip to the last eight in a major.
MELBOURNE, Australia — When the draw for the Australian Open was made, it wasn’t Roger Federer who was being widely touted as the prime contender to claim an 18th major title.
All that hype surrounded Serena Williams, but she was knocked out in the fourth round.
Federer is still three match wins away from that milestone, but after his 6-3 7-5 6-4 demolition of No. 10-seeded Jo-Wilfried Tsonga yesterday, it’s clear he’s up for the challenge.
On a day when No. 3 Maria Sharapova was upset by No. 20 Dominika Cibulkova, following top-ranked Williams out of the tournament and opening up the women’s draw for defending champion Victoria Azarenka, the leading male contenders on the heavily stacked top half advanced to the quarterfinals.
Progressing along with Federer were top-ranked Rafael Nadal, who had a 7-6 (7-3) 7-5 7-6 (7-3) win over Kei Nishikori — though he was broken twice and got a time violation in the third set — and Wimbledon champion Andy Murray, who overcame a racket-smashing, frustrating finish to the third set to beat Stephane Robert 6-1 6-2 6-7 (6-8) 6-2.
Federer is back in the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam for the first time since last year’s French Open — equalling Jimmy Connors’ Open-era record with his 41st trip to the last eight in a major. He next plays Murray, a three-time Australian Open finalist. A win could set up a semifinal against Nadal, who next plays first-time major quarterfinalist Grigor Dimitrov.
A win there for Federer would likely set up a final against three-time defending champion Novak Djokovic — the only other man who has won four Australian titles in the Open era. Djokovic is playing his quarterfinal today against No. 8 Stanislas Wawrinka.