I feel a bit lucky - Federer
Roger Federer dropped his first sets at this year's Australian Open - but it did not stop him from muscling his way into a semi-final meeting with Andy Murray.
The Swiss was handed his first significant test of the tournament against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga but came through 7-6 (7/4) 4-6 7-6 (7/4) 3-6 6-3.
"It was tough the whole match. Any set could have gone either way," Federer said. "It was tough because you never know what Jo-Wilfried is going to come up with. I feel a bit lucky to come through."
Federer started in commanding fashion with a break in the opening game but was then broken himself for the first time this year.
The world number two set up a chance to move 5-4 ahead with a wonderful high baseline drive in reply to a Tsonga smash but then wasted the break-point opportunity with a sloppy forehand. Tsonga managed to keep it on serve but could do little in the tie-break as Federer upped his game to take it 7-4.
The second was also closely fought but it went the way of the seventh seed thanks to a solitary break in game seven.
A match which had yet to scale real heights was warming up and the third went to another breaker. And it was Federer who again came through, a mini-break handing him two set points and he took the first after some wonderful scrambling defence forced his opponent to push a low backhand volley wide.
The 17-time major winner appeared to be going in for the kill when he claimed four break points early in the fourth but Tsonga held on, aided by some big serving and heavy groundstrokes.
The 2008 Melbourne runner-up was also having more joy on the Federer serve and he established a 4-2 lead when Federer pushed a routine forehand beyond the baseline. The players then traded breaks as nerves started to become a factor before Tsonga held firm to serve it out and take it to a deciding set.
Federer cruised into a 4-1 lead in the fifth and wasted two chances to claim a double-break, Federer setting up the point only to miss the easy drive volley into the open court. Tsonga held and then staved off four match points in his next service game but it was merely delaying the inevitable as Federer got the job done to go through in three hours and 34 minutes.