Federer fades out as French fancy a home hero

Federer fades out as French fancy a home hero

Should it turn out that Jo-Wilfried Tsonga answers his country’s prayers on Sunday by becoming the first Frenchman to win at Roland Garros since Yannick Noah 30 years ago, Roger Federer will be far away and long forgotten.

The Wimbledon champion will be at Halle in northern Germany, practising for next week’s ATP grass-court event and preparing for the London championship, which is by far his best, and increasingly only, chance of winning an 18th major title.The Swiss master is much closer to his 32nd birthday than his 31st, and that was painfully evident at times as he was brutally dismissed 7-5, 6-3, 6-3 in an hour and 51 minutes by Tsonga in their French Open quarter-final.The mercurial man from Le Mans now faces David Ferrer, who put away a tired Tommy Robredo 6-2, 6-1, 6-1. The Spaniard’s durability, plus the presence of Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic in the draw, mean that we are still a long way from an emotional home win at the weekend.

Tsonga, who shares a part-African heritage with Noah, has ensured that this will be the first Grand Slam final since Wimbledon 2010 to feature only one member of the so-called Big Four. Another by-product is Andy Murray will go into Wimbledon as world No 2.Only a fool would write off Federer at the All England Club, but elsewhere there are signs his aura is fading, nowhere more so than on clay.Anyone three months from turning 32 would find it harder to rebound from the five-set match he went through on Sunday afternoon.Federer made no excuses, and bemoaned the extra charge that the crowd gave Tsonga: ‘The French guys have so much more energy here than elsewhere,’ said the Swiss. ‘He was better than me in all areas. I’m pretty sad about the way I played. I tried to figure things out, but he does a great job of keeping the pressure on.’

It was noticeable here and at the Italian Open that Federer has been prone to sloppy volleying errors; yesterday his overheads disintegrated.As Federer asserted, he will get over this defeat with the move to grass, but then, when you have won 17 Grand Slams, the hurt is somewhat eased. That might be a problem in itself.Federer could not sustain a promising start that saw him go 4-2 up, and once Tsonga got level, he fairly  rattled through a quickfire match.If one great champion looked to be fading, another, Serena Williams, powers on. But for the first time this year, she came close to one of the meltdowns she has suffered before in Paris.At 2-0 down in the decider against another former champion, Svetlana Kuznetsova, she was in deep trouble but pulled it around to win 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 to set up a tie against last year’s beaten finalist, Sara Errani of Italy.For Williams, her 29th win in a row put her through to the semi-finals here for the first time in a decade. – DailyMail