Canada Flashback: Roger Federer squanders 5-1 lead vs. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga

Roger Federer did not enjoy the best start of the 2009 season. The Swiss lost to Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic in the latter stages of five tournaments and failed to win the title before May. His luck changed in Madrid, beating Rafael Nadal in the final before conquering the “Channel Slam” and entering the record books. Roger came to Montreal with a 19-match winning streak, defeating Frederic Niemeyer and Stan Wawrinka to reach the quarter-final and facing Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in a battle for the semis. It was only their second meeting (they would play more often in the years to come), and the Frenchman stunned world no. 1 7-6, 1-6, 7-6 in two hours and 19 minutes. Jo-Wilfried trailed 5-1 in the deciding set before performing a comeback and prevailing in the deciding tie break. Federer regained his composure after losing the opening set.

Roger led 5-1 in the deciding set against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in Montreal 2009.

He stormed over the opponent to grab the second set in no time and used that momentum to open a 5-1 advantage in the decider. Winning 11 of the previous 14 games, Roger was two points away from the triumph at 5-2 and 5-4. Tsonga survived those games and played well to erase the deficit and create three match points in game 12. Federer defended them to enter a tie break, but it was not to be for him in the end. He lost it 7-3 after a double fault to propel Jo-Wilfried into the second Masters 1000 semi-final. Federer had ten break chances and won nine points more than his rival. However, it was not enough to carry him over the finish line, never wasting such a massive lead in a career. This tournament will remain written down in the history books. It was the first event since the introduction of the ATP ranking in 1973 with eight best-ranked players in the quarter-final. 

“Well, it happens in tennis. It’s never over until it’s over. I thought it was a very up-and-down match, and I should have won the first set. Even more, Jo completely lost his game for an hour through the second and third sets. It was unfortunate I could not serve it up. I thought it was a decent match, I did not think it was bad, but it was not great either. I should never have allowed him to come back, but it did happen, so it’s a pity. I think I got off bad starts on all of my service games towards the end; I was down maybe 30-0 in each service game, which was a problem. I had to scramble each time and start playing safe a bit. He needed that because otherwise, I would hand it over to him. This way, he made me work for it and did well to return to the positive side. It’s not something I go through very often, being 5-1 in front and ending up losing, especially after not losing serve before that downfall. It’s tough, but you are still in it with a chance. I served horribly in both tie breaks, and I guess that cost me the match,” Roger Federer said.