ROGER FEDERER dropped his first sets at this year’s Australian Open – but it did not stop him from muscling his way into a semi-final meeting with Andy Murray.
The Swiss was handed his first significant test of the tournament against Jo- Wilfried Tsonga but came through 7-6 (7/4) 4-6 7-6 (7/4) 3-6 6-3.
He will now meet Murray in a repeat of last year’s Wimbledon and Olympic finals.
‘‘It was tough the whole match. Any set could have gone either way,” Federer said. ‘‘It was tough because you never know what Jo- Wilfried is going to come up with.
“I feel a bit lucky to come through.’’ As for playing Murray tomorrow, the 31-year-old added: ‘‘I’m looking forward to the match.
“He had a great year last year, winning his first grand slam and Olympic gold. He is a great guy and a great player.’’ Federer started in commanding fashion with a break in the opening game but was then broken himself for the first time this year.
The world number two upped his game to take it 7-4, but the second went the way of the seventh seed thanks to a solitary break in game seven.
The third went to another breaker and it was Federer who again came through.
The 17-time major winner appeared to be going in for the kill when he claimed four break points early in the fourth, but Tsonga held on and established a 4-2 lead.
The players then traded breaks as nerves started to become a factor before Tsonga held firm to serve it out and take it to a deciding set.
At one point Tsonga staved off four match points for Federer, but it was merely delaying the inevitable as Federer got the job done to go through in three hours and 34 minutes.