It is rare to see Roger Federer rattled. The greatest tennis champion the world has ever seen has been playing at such a high level for so many years that you almost expect him to waltz into semifinals and finals no matter his age, because he's never seemed to show his battle with Father Time.
But Tuesday at the French Open, it seemed that everything we are used to seeing from Federer was out the window. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga beat Federer 7-5, 6-3, 6-3 and to say it didn't even feel that close would be fairly accurate.
Federer got up a break early in the first set and it looked like we could cruise to a 1-0 lead in this quarterfinals match, but Tsonga battled back, winning the first set, getting off to a hot start in the second and then continuing his domination in the third just as it seemed the 17-time Grand Slam champion was finally figuring out how to play a man he has had plenty of battles with over the years.
Tsonga simply never let up. He kept pounding the ball harder at Federer who, for some reason, decided to play that same game. The 31-year-old never deviated from his plan, and while it allowed him to get off to a hot start, he simply couldn't keep up with the power of the Frenchman.
The stats pretty much sum up what happened to Federer in Paris. He didn't have a single ace, carded three double-faults and won just 58 percent of his first serves (Tsonga, on the other hand, won 81 percent of his first serves). Federer had 34 unforced errors in just three short sets and couldn't seem to figure out a game plan that would prove effective against Tsonga.
Now the battle for Tsonga reaches something similar to what Andy Murray deals with at Wimbledon. A Frenchman hasn't won this event since Yannick Noah in 1983, but he will have his work cut out for him going forward.
Tsonga will face David Ferrer in the semifinals, and if he can get past the quick Spaniard it will most likely be Novak Djokovic or Rafael Nadal, who have yet to play their quarterfinal matches, which isn't exactly what you'd consider a breeze to the trophy.
Still, a statement match for Tsonga who had lost his last five matches against Federer coming into this French Open.