World No. 8 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga overcame his closely seeded fellow French opponent Richard Gasquet in four sets 6-4 3-6 6-3 6-2 to grant himself entry into the Australian Open 2013 quarterfinals.
The match began with an apparent contrast in temperament between the players; Gasquet starting off fairly tense while Tsonga appeared cool, calm and collected.
Tsonga took advantage of Gasquet’s somewhat nervous start to establish an early break, acing his way to a 2-1 lead.
Gasquet used his fierce backhand as a potent weapon throughout the match to change the pace of the point, but his consistent positioning far behind the baseline placed him in a risky situation where Tsonga could take the balls earlier at the baseline, enabling the world No. 8 to more easily dictate play and too often presented him with the opportunity for a put-away drop shot.
On the whole, however, Gasquet missed very few shots at the net and despite heavy hitting forehand drives being launched from the other side of the net, Gasquet proved to be the superior force at the net.
Tsonga’s displayed significantly improved footwork on court, moving quicker as a result of his training preparation for the 2013 season.
Without Gasquet having managed to secure a break back, Tsonga served for the set at 5-4.
Gasquet continued to exhibit an almost flawless performance at the net, leaving a bewildered Tsonga shocked as to how his heavy hitting advances were apparently being returned so effortlessly.
Gasquet had the opportunity to break at 40-30, but a hurling ace by the world No. 8 sent the score to deuce and Tsonga went on to consolidate the set point. A perfect forehand winner landing directly on the baseline resulted in Tsonga closing out the first set 6-4.
Several mishits from Tsonga in the fourth game of the second saw Gasquet to achieve two break point opportunities at 15-40. Another mishit from the world No. 8 led to Gasquet breaking ahead 3-1.
Tsonga began to generate better angles, posing a far stronger service game than the one prior to ensure the hold, however, Gasquet continued to seemingly possess the ‘magic touch’ at the net, gently tapping a sublime drop shot.
Unforced errors increasingly coming off Tsonga’s racquet in combination with a fierce backhand secured Gasquet the second set, levelling the score to one set apiece.
While Gasquet continued to pressure the world No. 8’s service game, an aggressive Tsonga retaliated to take the set 6-3.
In the fourth, Tsonga consolidated the early break after lengthy rally which forced Gasquet to falter under the pressure.
Tsonga at last found his usual rhythm and was moving better on the court while his lower seeded opponent began to make more unforced errors, leading the charismatic Frenchman to prevail 6-4 3-6 6-3 6-2 and celebrate the win with his habitual victory dance as he had ensured himself a position in the quarterfinal round of AO 2013.
Monday afternoon also featured 25-year-old Frenchman Jérémy Chardy upsetting the world No. 23 Andreas Seppi 5-7 6-3 6-2 6-2 to secure his first ever Grand Slam quarterfinal.
Originally published at The SportingJournal.