Things have gone according to plan for Roger Federer and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga leading up to their quarterfinals matchup in this year's Australian Open. Both contenders have looked the part, having their way with opponents through four rounds, but it's safe to assume both parties are aware of the challenge that lies ahead.
Tsonga meets Federer for the first time since the Swiss's withdraw from last January's Qatar Open, looking to build on a four-set victory over No. 9 seed Richard Gasquet.
Federer is coming off an impressive victory as well, albeit against an admittedly injured opponent, No. 13 seed Milos Raonic.
Raonic and Tsonga have similar games that revolve around big serves and powerful groundstrokes from the baseline. Tsonga, however, is much more agile than the Canadian and will look to feature that athleticism against Federer.
While the Swiss great has been business as usual, Tsonga has been just as impressive, boasting more aces and winners than his quarterfinal foe. He is also averaging the second-fastest serve in the tournament.
These numbers won't mean much, however, as the two top-10 players face off in Rod Laver Arena. Instead, it will come down to a battle of will, a testament of fortitude. Tsonga hopes to keep the dream of winning his first Grand Slam alive, while Federer looks to add another notch to his title belt.
Despite a 4-8 career record against Feds, Tsonga is no stranger to beating him on the big stage.
Recall Wimbledon 2011 when Federer blew a two-set lead to lose, ironically enough, in a quarterfinals matchup.
The 27-year-old hopes for a repeat performance, but in order to do so, he will have to force Federer into errors while avoiding the unforced errors that prolonged his match with Gasquet.
That being said, having endured a four-set test may actually help Tsonga in what is expected to be a knock-down, drag-out contest Wednesday night.
Still, first serves will be key, and Tsonga will need to rediscover the serve that garnered 29 aces through the first two matches. He also needs to show the ability to fight off Federer's first serve which has won nearly 85 percent of the time this tournament.
If Tsonga can break early, he should have all the confidence he needs to pull the upset.
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