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"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.
Facing a break point, Federer sliced a drop shot, and Tsonga raced forward to scoop it up. He whacked a backhand that clipped the net cord and then drilled Federer under his right arm.
That made it 4-3, and Tsonga quickly won the final two games. When he closed out the victory, Federer greeted him with a gracious smile and a congratulatory pat on the stomach.
A jubilant Tsonga then went spinning across the court, waving his arms as the partisan crowd roared. Federer, long a fan favorite in Paris, also earned a lusty cheer as he headed to the exit. He responded by applauding the crowd.
"I should have won the first set," Federer said. "Unfortunately I couldn’t regroup."
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.
The French Open has always been the most difficult major event for Federer. He won his lone Roland Garros title in 2009 to complete a career Grand Slam and tie Pete Sampras’ record of 14 major titles.
Now 31, he has yet to win any tournament in 2013, his longest drought to start a year since 2000.
Williams is also 31 but playing at her peak — although that wasn’t the case for a long stretch against Kuznetsova. Williams overcame an inconsistent serve, erratic groundstrokes and a 2-love deficit in the final set, winning five consecutive games and then closing the victory with a forehand winner and a scream.
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