Djokovic faces Federer in semis after great French Open escape

Story highlights

  • Novak Djokovic saves four match-points to reach French Open semifinals
  • World No. 1 ends France's hopes of first male winner since 1983
  • Serbian seeking to be first man since 1969 to hold all four grand slam titles
  • He will play 16-time grand slam champion Roger Federer in Friday's semi

World No. 1 Novak Djokovic battled back from the brink of defeat at the French Open on Tuesday to rescue his hopes of becoming the first man in 43 years to hold all four grand slam titles.

The Serbian saved four match-points before finally overcoming home favorite Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the quarterfinals.

Djokovic, who has never reached the final at Roland Garros, triumphed 6-1 5-7 5-7 7-6 (8-6) 6-1 against the fifth seed in a scintillating match lasting just over four hours.

The 25-year-old set up a rematch with 16-time grand slam champion Roger Federer, who beat Djokovic in the Paris semifinals last year to end his 43-match winning run.

"He was the better player for most of the match and I was fortunate to come back from four match-points down. It was an incredible match," said Djokovic, who won the first and fifth sets in a combined time of just 53 minutes.

The hopes of a nation had rested on Tsonga, playing in the quarterfinals of his home event for the first time, but France's wait for a first male champion since Yannick Noah in 1983 must continue.

Hantuchova expects Sharapova victory
Hantuchova expects Sharapova victory


    Hantuchova expects Sharapova victory


Hantuchova expects Sharapova victory 02:43
Spirit, fitness and David Ferrer
Spirit, fitness and David Ferrer


    Spirit, fitness and David Ferrer


Spirit, fitness and David Ferrer 04:29
Michael Chang's historic French victory
Michael Chang's historic French victory


    Michael Chang's historic French victory


Michael Chang's historic French victory 06:16

Instead, Djokovic will have a day's rest before continuing his bid to match Australia's Rod Laver, who twice won all four grand slams in a calendar year -- as an amateur in 1962 and then as a professional at the start of the Open era in 1969.

"I did what I said I would and gave everything. I came close and I would have loved to have won," said Tsonga, who had vowed before the match to "fight like a lion."

"It's a shame because I was pretty close, but at the end I had no energy left. Now I will have to close this chapter," the 27-year-old added.

Federer reached the last four at a major for a record-equaling 31st time as he came from two sets down to end the hopes of injury-hampered Juan Martin Del Potro.

The Swiss third seed won 3-6 6-7 (4-7) 6-2 6-0 6-3 in a virtual repeat of their 2009 semifinal, when Federer went on to claim the Roland Garros crown for the first and only time in his illustrious career.

Del Potro avenged that defeat by beating Federer in the 2009 U.S. Open final for his only major success, but this time the Argentine ninth seed could not maintain his ferocious opening momentum.

"I knew Juan Martin's knee was bothering him and was trying to finish the rallies quickly," Federer said. "I knew it would be a big fight today."

The other two quarterfinals will be played on Wednesday, when world No. 2 Rafael Nadal continues his bid for a record seventh title as he takes on fellow Spaniard Nicolas Almagro, the 12th seed.

Britain's world No. 4 Andy Murray faces a big test of his hopes of winning his first grand slam as he lines up against sixth seed David Ferrer, who has won all of their three clay clashes.


    • Rafael Nadal of Spain watches the ball in his match against Martin Klizan of Slovakia during during day seven of the China Open at the National Tennis Center on October 3, 2014 in Beijing, China.

      What does 2015 hold for Rafa?

      Rafael Nadal's body might be giving him a few problems, but his mind remains as strong as ever. Will the Spaniard add to his haul of 14 grand slam titles?
    • LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 17: Wimbledon champion Andy Murray and his long time girlfriend Kim Sears arrive at Buckingham Palace on October 17, in London, England. Murray will become an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) and receive his medal from the Duke of Cambridge. (Photo by John Stillwell - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

      Love game: Andy Murray to tie knot

      The Scot has served up a few changes to his support team in 2014 but there's one person who isn't going anywhere -- his new fiancée Kim Sears.
    • Despite being forced to retire at the age of 24 due to health problems, Lacoste remained in the game and went on start the "Lacoste" brand in 1933, which specialised in tennis products. The inspiration for the company's logo came from his nickname as a player, "le crocodile."

      'Crocodile' who broke all the rules

      His distinctive crocodile logo is seen on clothing all over the world, but Rene Lacoste also left a lasting legacy in the development of tennis.
    • Serena Williams of the US holds the US Open trophy after defeating Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark during their US Open 2014 women's singles finals match at the USTA Billie Jean King National Center September 7, 2014 in New York. AFP PHOTO/Stan HONDA (Photo credit should read STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images)

      Serena savors U.S. Open win

      Serena Williams is without peer in the modern women's game and now she is on a par with two American tennis legends from the past.
    • American tennis player and golfer Althea Gibson (right) receives a kiss from compatriot Darlene Hard, whom she beat in two sets to become the first black woman to win the Women's Singles Finals at Wimbledon.

      The amazing life of Althea Gibson

      Over the course of her remarkable life, Althea Gibson was many things to many people -- but it was tennis where she really left her mark.
    • Courting couple at match point

      "I didn't cry once when I practiced in front of the mirror," says Martin Emmrich. But the nerves kicked in when he got down on one knee on court.
    • LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - JULY 03: Tennis / Frauen: Wimbledon 2004, London; Finale; Siegerin Maria SHARAPOVA / RUS 03.07.04. (Photo by Bongarts/Bongarts/Getty Images)

      'Baby' Sharapova's big moment

      It's 10 years since a teenage Maria Sharapova became the darling of Wimbledon's hallowed Center Court, launching herself as a star.
    • 'Swiss Miss' follows mom's lead

      Five-time grand slam champion Martina Hingis has followed her mom into a coaching role, setting up a new tennis academy in Barcelona, Spain.