2014 Australian Open champion Stan Wawrinka secured his place in the semifinals of the first slam of the year for the third time with an impressive win over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, 7-6(2), 6-4, 6-4. Wawrinka will face either Mischa Zverev or compatriot Roger Federer for a place in the final.
Both players started out slowly but Wawrinka raised his game in the big moments, dominating the tiebreak to take a one set lead. Tsonga was flat throughout the match and Wawrinka took advantage, cruising impressively through the next two sets as Tsonga failed to rise to the occasion.
Wawrinka edges ahead
Early errors from Wawrinka helped Tsonga through a quick love hold to begin the match. The Swiss followed with an easy hold of his own, with the loss of only one point with a double fault. Wawrinka took his first return points in the next game with a forehand winner and an error from the Frenchman, but big hitting from Tsonga brought him out with the hold.
Two backhand errors in a row from Wawrinka left the Frenchman with a 0-30 lead on return. Three loose shots in a row from Tsonga gave Wawrinka a game point but another error from the Swiss took them to deuce. A forehand winner back behind Tsonga gave Wawrinka another game point and a big serve sealed it to level the pair at 2-2. Wawrinka then took a lead on return in the following game with a couple of errors from Tsonga. Huge forehands from the Frenchman seen him through the danger and back into the lead.
A perfect forehand winner and an ace from Wawrinka sealed another good hold. Tsonga edged back into the lead at 4-3 with an ace taking the game point. Both men were yet to completely settle into the match. They were both inconsistent so far and racked up a few errors between them. A one-handed backhand passing shot winner from Tsonga gave him a look in on the return. Huge backhands from Wawrinka pushed his opponent back and an ace gave him game point, taking it with a serve-volley to level the set at 4-4.
Excellent serving from Tsonga seen him through another easy hold of serve. A great chase down of a drop shot and a forehand winner on return then seen the Frenchman move two points away from taking the set but two costly errors gave Wawrinka through the close game. A forehand wide and a double fault from Tsonga left him in danger, giving the Swiss a 0-30 lead on return. A huge serve and outstanding pickup at the net from the Frenchman brought them level, eventually coming away with the hold to force Wawrinka to serve to stay in the set for the second time. Great serving from Wawrinka seen off the pressure as he came through the hold to force a tiebreak.
The pair traded mini-breaks at the beginning of the tiebreaker, each hitting errors on their own service points. Another error from Tsonga took Wawrinka ahead to 3-2. The Swiss then raised his level as Tsonga faltered, running away with the next four points to secure the tiebreak and a one set lead.
Former champion in control
Both men opened with a good hold of serve each to begin the second set. The first break points of the match went the way of Tsonga but some horrible play on both allowed Wawrinka to erase them, battling out of the game to lead 2-1. More big groundstrokes from the Frenchman gave him another easy hold of serve to level the pair up early in the second set. Wawrinka secured his next hold of serve with a signature one-handed backhand down the line winner.
The Frenchman remained untroubled on serve as scorching forehands seen him sail through another hold. Wawrinka looked to be cruising through an easy hold of his own but from 40-15 up, the Swiss dropped serve for the first time in the match as he lost concentration. Great returning from Wawrinka left Tsonga's lead in danger immediately as the Swiss earned three break back points. An error from the Frenchman handed Wawrinka the break back and leveled the set at 4-4.
The Swiss came through a good hold to go a game away from taking a two-set lead. Tsonga's level dropped and Wawrinka took advantage, raising his game to break for the set, taking it 6-4 to go a set away from another semifinal in Melbourne.
Sailing into the semis
Wawrinka battled through a long game to open the third set, saving a break point and surviving some better hitting from Tsonga to edge ahead. The Swiss then again stepped up and raised his level as Tsonga lost concentration, an error from the Frenchman giving Wawrinka the early break. The lead was easily consolidated with clean hitting and excellent movement around the baseline from Wawrinka taking him to 3-0.
Tsonga was made to work hard for his first hold of the set, massive forehands finally breaking through Wawrinka's defense to get a game on the scoreboard. Wawrinka still wasn't allowing the Frenchman a look in on return, dictating from the baseline as he confidently eased through another service game. Risky groundstrokes paid off for Tsonga as he held on to reduce the deficit to 4-2. The Frenchman then found himself with opportunities on the return as a couple of errors from the Swiss gave him a break point. Wawrinka let out a roar as he closed down the net to quickly erase the danger, coming through the crucial game to force Tsonga to serve to stay in the match.
A scorching forehand winner took Wawrinka ahead on return as he looked to close out the match on his opponent's serve. A huge serve from Tsonga leveled them up but an error followed to take the Swiss two points away. The Frenchman moved into the net and played a great backhand volley to level again and an ace brought up game point. Another stunning forehand winner down the line from Wawrinka forced them to deuce. Another huge cross-court forehand gave Tsonga the advantage and the Frenchman then fired down an ace to force Wawrinka to serve for it. There was no trouble for the 2014 champion as he served out the match to love, booking his place in the semifinals for the third time.