at the Union Buildings in Pretoria
London - Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, used to being a crowd pleaser, was not concerned about finding himself on the wrong side of fans after sealing a Wimbledon semifinal against home favourite Andy Murray on Wednesday.
The spectre of the possible match-up loomed throughout fifth seed Tsonga's gritty 7-6, 4-6, 7-6, 6-2 quarterfinal win over German Philipp Kohlschreiber.
The breaks between games on Court One were punctuated with groans or cheers from the crowd whenever details of Murray's match against Spaniard David Ferrer were shown on the scoreboard.
In one unfortunate incident, Tsonga netted a forehand just as a huge cheer erupted from Centre Court, where Murray and Ferrer were locked in battle, to the amusement of the watching fans.
“Sometimes I play against a player who has a lot of support and I win,” Frenchman Tsonga told reporters.
“I remember at the US Open I played against (Mardy) Fish in a tight match. It was not easy, but I won it.
“It's of course an advantage to play at home but it's still tennis and you never know what will happen on court,” said Tsonga, whose only victory over the Briton in six matches was at the 2008 Australian Open.
“Andy's one of the players I don't like to play because he's returning really well and he can play some really good passing shots.
“He's really quick. He's all the time on the ball, so it's tough for me.
“But I beat him once and last time we played together on grass, I had a match point and it was really close,” added Tsonga, referring to last year's final at Queen's.
“I will have a chance. I mean, on 100 percent I have maybe less than him, but I will have some and I will try to take it.”
Tsonga's match against Kohlschreiber was an engrossing if sometimes scrappy encounter.
The obviously relieved Frenchman performed his customary victory jig around the court after breaking Kohlschreiber for the second time in the fourth set.
Tsonga sealed victory on his first match point after rushing to the net and firing a forehand crosscourt winner to seal victory in two hours 48 minutes.
“It was difficult today. Philipp played well, he served well, he was better than me on the baseline, he was very aggressive,” Tsonga said.
“But I'm through and I'm happy. It's a second chance after last year,” added the 27-year-old, who lost to Djokovic in the semis in 2011.
He took a while to get into his stride, struggling with his first serve and forehand, which went straight into the net more times than he will care to remember.
For three sets, 27th-seed Kohlschreiber was a match for his higher-ranked opponent and appeared happy to come into the net or to slug out from the baseline with Tsonga.
The German saved five break points in the third set, three thanks to Tsonga netting forehands, and the final one with a delectable backhand volley.
But Tsonga, who had a 5-1 career record against Kohlschreiber, took the tiebreak when his opponent netted and that seemed to galvanise the French number one.
He raced through the fourth set, breaking Kohlschreiber for a 3-1 lead and the German sent a forehand long to set up matchpoint for Tsonga. - Reuters