Roger Federer's return to competition was thwarted by Jo-Wilfried Tsonga who defeated the Swiss 3-6, 6-2, 7-5 in the Monte Carlo Rolex Masters Quarter Finals. In what was Roger's first tournament play since Melbourne he made a flying start; breaking Tsonga 3 times in the opening set to take it 6-2. But the four time Monte Carl finalist couldn't maintain his early pace, losing his serve 3 times to drop the second set 6-2; then crucially at 5-5 in the decider which allowed Tsonga to serve his way into the semi finals where he will face fellow countryman Gael Monfils.
Quick Match Recap
Roger Federer won the toss and elected to receive. During the toss he complained to Bernardes about whether the court would be watered or not. Tsonga kicked things off with a hold to 30; Roger then held to 15 to level.
Game 2 saw Roger fashion his first break points thanks to some awesome shotmaking and he converted on the second to lead 2-1. Tsonga managed to hit straight back, helped by a double fault at 0-15. The Frenchman then held to love for a 3-2 lead. Roger held to love himself and broke Tsonga's serve for the second time in the set. This time around the Swiss consolidated for 5-3, saving a break point in the process. He then went on to break Tsonga's serve again to wrap the set up 6-3.
Serving first in set 2 looked like it would be an advantage for Roger but he dropped serve immediately; digging in to make deuce from 0-40 only to falter on the fourth break point as Tsonga broke to lead 1-0. Tsonga consolidated and soon found himself up a double break for 4-1. Roger recouped one of them for 4-2 but he dropped serve again at 2-5 and Tsonga forced a decider.
Set 3 saw the Swiss again serving first and he held to lead 1-0. Game 2 was a marathon 5 deuce game but Roger couldn't fashion a single break point as Tsonga held. From that point on there was little in the way of chances as both players looked comfortable on serve up till 4-4. Game 9 saw Roger hold to love and he had a slight inroad on the Tsonga serve at 15-30 but nothing materialised. With things finely poised at 5-5 Fed lost only the 2nd point behind his first serve of the set for 0-15 and went on to drop serve. Tsonga was now in the driving site and despite slipping to 0-30 he won 4 straight points to hold serve and move into the Semi Finals with a 3-6 6-2 7-5 victory.
|R. Federer||J. Tsonga|
|1st Serve %||58%||56%|
|1st Serve Points Won||33/49 (67%)||44/60 (73%)|
|2nd Serve Points Won||18/35 (51%)||20/47 (43%)|
|Break Points Saved||7/12 (58%)||3/7 (43%)|
|Service Games Played||14||15|
|1st Return Points Won||16/60 (27%)||16/49 (33%)|
|2nd Return Points Won||27/47 (57%)||17/35 (49%)|
|Break Points Won||4/7 (57%)||5/12 (42%)|
|Return Games Played||15||14|
|Net Points Won||17/27||7/14|
|Total Service Points Won||51/84 (61%)||64/107 (60%)|
|Total Return Points Won||43/107 (40%)||33/84 (39%)|
|Total Points Won||94/191 (49%)||97/191 (51%)|
Thoughts on the Match
A typical topsy turvy match against Tsonga this one with both players playing well one minute, error strewn the next. Roger started the match in great shape, playing smart tennis he was able to play a large chunk of points on his terms and force Tsonga into making too many unforced errors especially of the backhand wing.
After winning the first set I thought Fed was going to come through in straights but he handed over serve tamely at the start of set 2. That allowed Tsonga to get on a roll and he won it at a canter breaking serve 3 times.
The decider was always going to be a bit of a lottery but with Fed serving first it looked like he might find a way over the line. As the set wore on though you could tell it was going to be a struggle to get it done as he made no inroads on the return. He managed to serve pretty well to keep it close but he was late to the party on way too many forehands. That finally caught up with him and once Tsonga managed to string together a couple of decent shots he was broken at 5-5. Bit disappointing to not capitalise on love 30 missing that easy volley at 30-30 5-6 but hey ho.
Anyway I think it's been a decent week. Of course the usual mob are out in force saying he has blown a golden opportunity to win his first Monte Carlo title 😆 but 34 years old, 12 weeks out, comes back, wins 2 matches, nearly makes it 3 and leaves the tournament knowing a lot more about his game and his knee / body than before it. I don't think there can be too many complaints.
Let me know what you thought of the match in the comments.