Toronto: Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Grigor Dimitrov were set to clash in the Rogers Cup tennis semis after they defeated their opponents in two gripping matches.
It was a bit of a roller-coaster, but the 13th seeded Tsonga pulled off yet another upset with a 7-6(5), 4-6, 6-4 quarterfinal victory against eighth-seeded Andy Murray, reports Xinhua.
The Frenchman, who has defeated three top players when they were all World No. 1, started his first service game off strong with his unstoppable aces. Murray fought off break point and kept Tsonga within a one point lead at 2-1, and eventually tied it.
Murray wasn`t just on the receiving end of Tsonga`s punishing aces though. The No. 8 seed served up an ace to tie it 4-4 and then again a third ace to bring the set to a tie-break.
But Tsonga kept up his aggressive play in the tiebreak, whipping balls into Murray`s court, and eventually served up his ninth ace to lock down the set.
It was those very aces that had top-seeded Novak Djokovic eliminated in the third round Thursday. And Tsonga made good use of his powerful weapon against Murray again Friday.
It`s been an incredible tournament so far for the Frenchman, who credits it to a strenuous practice regime in the last few months.
"I practiced a lot because I didn`t win many matches, and I did also the choice to practice than play tournaments because I was not really ready after the knee problem I had last year," explained Tsonga.
"I worked a lot on my legs, and for sure I`m stronger on my legs. I think it helped me a lot for my serve because I can push a little bit more, so it give me more angle."
Murray, on the other hand, received a walkover into the quarter-finals after the 12th seeded Richard Gasquet withdrew from an abdominal strain.
"It`s just disappointing because right now it`s important to play matches. You know, maybe like towards the end of the season it`s not always such a bad thing when you`re tired and stuff," said Murray.
"But if you have had a break for a while, you know, ideally you want to try and play as many matches as you can right now."
But Tsonga lost his rhythm in the second set and put Murray in a good position at double break point. Murray took advantage of the situation and claimed the set.
It was an unpredictable match, with the momentum swinging back and forth between the players. Murray had a win in the cards when he took a 3-0 lead in the final set after making adjustments to handle Tsonga`s aces.
"You know, I had to play around my return position quite a lot, and I started to get into more service games the second and third set, but I thought it was a high level match with a few games by both of us in the second and third sets that were a bit scrappy," said Murray.
And it seemed to work for a bit, until a number of unforced errors on Murray`s part put Tsonga right back into play with a 3-3 tie.
Tsonga stepped up from there to win the match with a total of 18 aces, and winning 83 per cent of his first service points.
Dimitrov won a nail-biting 5-7, 7-5, 7-6(6) quarter-finals match against South African Kevin Anderson, who just upset No. 3 seed Stan Wawrinka Thursday. It wasn`t an easy win for the seventh seed, who at two points did the splits on the court after chasing Anderson`s returns, and seemed to hurt himself after a stumble.
After each taking a set, the pressure was on. The South African stayed close, but was noticeably nervous and anxious. A number of unforced errors later, Anderson eventually unravelled under pressure at match point and double-faulted to give Dimitrov the win.