PARIS—By Roger Federer’s standards, defeat came early in the French Open. And it came quickly.
The 17-time grand slam champion lost Tuesday in the quarterfinals to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France, 7–5, 6–3, 6–3.
Federer was eliminated before the semifinals for the second time in past three Grand Slam tournaments, but only the fifth time in the past nine years at a major event. Tsonga was responsible for two of the losses—he also beat Federer in the quarterfinals at Wimbledon in 2011.
“I’m pretty sad about the match and the way I played,” Federer said. “He was in all areas better than me today. That’s why the result was pretty clean.”
Tsonga earned his first berth in the Roland Garros semifinals. He’s the first Frenchman to reach the semifinals since Gael Monfils in 2008.
“I can’t have better a dream,” Tsonga told the centre court crowd. “So far I play very well. I played against a champion today, a guy who has won everything. Today it’s my turn.”
Tsonga was runner-up to Novak Djokovic at the 2008 Australian Open, his best Grand Slam result. Ranked No. 8, he dominated Federer with his blend of power and athleticism.
“Give some credit to the old Jo-Willy Tsonga, please,” Federer said.
Federer took a 4-2 lead but played like a mere mortal after that as the match rapidly slipped away. He blew three overheads, missed several easy volleys, hit no aces, dropped serve six times and took a shot to the body on the point that put Tsonga ahead to stay in the final set.
The last time Federer lost to a player ranked so low in a major tournament was at Wimbledon two years ago, when the No. 19-ranked Tsonga overcame a two-set deficit to beat him.
Now 31, he has yet to win any tournament in 2013, his longest drought to start a year since 2000.
With files from The Canadian Press