Three Stars: Day 9
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (above) evoked the spirit of his 2008 beatdown of Rafael Nadal in Wednesday's upset of Roger Federer. (Toby Melville/Reuters)
WIMBLEDON, England -- Three thoughts in the wake of the men’s quarterfinals Wednesday at Wimbledon:
1. We don’t see enough of the vintage Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who became the first man to come from two sets down to defeat Roger Federer in a Grand Slam event. This was reminiscent of the 2008 Australian Open, when the stunningly athletic Tsonga defeated Rafael Nadal in a semifinal performance so comprehensive, people were projecting him as a future No. 1. He certainly looked the part, a phenomenal specimen with size and all-court talent, but injuries have been the predominant story of his career. What a treat to see him joyously dancing around Centre Court after an epic win over Federer and a berth in the semifinals against Novak Djokovic. Tsonga never let his nerves enter the equation, decisively holding in his last 24 service games, and as Boris Becker said during the BBC telecast, “I see great desire from Tsonga, the will to win. He has gone from good to great.”
2. Nadal’s foot injury has become quite the mystery. He spoke of “something bad” after his fourth-round victory over Juan Martin del Potro, thinking “perhaps I broke something.” Then he got an MRI, which revealed nothing of consequence, and he looked to be in typical form in winning his quarterfinal against Mardy Fish. There wasn’t a single sign of limited movement at any time. Afterward, Nadal said he received a pain-killing injection that “sleep the foot,” as he put it, and was guaranteed to last five hours, “so I don’t have to worry about anything.” Presumably, he’ll need more treatment before he takes the court against Andy Murray on Friday. There are those who sense a bit of the hypochondriac in Nadal, but it would be a major stretch to suggest he’s making all of this up. 3. Novak Djokovic said he was bothered by the change-of-pace tactics he got from 18-year-old Bernard Tomic. But I have to believe that by the fourth set, when he established clear control of the match, Djokovic was enjoying the exchanges. Sliced cross-court backhand? The Serb answered right back. Going flat for a while? Why not? By the end, Tomic had run out of good ideas. Great champions hold form against any brand of play, and for Djokovic -- still to prove his worth at Wimbledon -- this was a satisfying win.