The first semi-finalists of the Australian Open 2013 are known and if it is without surprise that Novak Djokovic almost “routined” Tomaš Berdych, with the exception of a dropped second set (6-1 4-6 6-1 6-4), David Ferrer has been led a more than merry chase by Nicolás Almagro, who not once, but three times served for the match, only to get broken at each time trying.
At the end of a 3h44 intense (and tense) five-setter, David Ferrer signed his 500th career win (4-6 4-6 7-5 7-6(4) 6-2), which perhaps explains how nervously he started the match, but not the great start of his opponent, who was playing lights-out tennis for the most part, and despite an injury sustained early in the match, that puts Nico Almagro in doubt for the Davis Cup tie in Vancouver next week.
Congratulations to David Ferrer, who now joins Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Lleyton Hewitt, and Tommy Haas among the active players of a very select club!
There are now two semi-finals spots that still need to be filled, which will be disputed between three more familiar faces, and by the surprise of the tournament.
Part 2 – Bottom half quarter-finals
 Roger Federer vs  Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
(Head-to-head: 8-3 Federer)
If they played an incredible eight matches in 2011, the last three all within the same week (all won by Federer), Roger Federer and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga have not met in 2012, as their only face-off ended up in a walkover from the Swiss.
Now working with Roger Rasheed, Tsonga started the top 10 encounters on the right foot this season, defeating his countryman Richard Gasquet for this quarter-final berth. The set he dropped against Gasquet was the only one he’s dropped in the whole tournament, and it was the only match in which he really was tested.
It is thus difficult to say in which conditions Tsonga will take the court tonight, and this unpredictability could be either the success or the downfall of Roger Federer.
For his part, Federer has had a very good tournament so far. Coming into the Australian Open without playing any warmup events, the Swiss has taken more time to practice, something that, of his own saying, he did not have much time to do in the very packed 2012 season.
This seems to have borne fruits, as not only Federer remains one of the two players not to have lost a set in the tournament, he is also the only player who came into the quarter-finals without having lost his own serve.
He was particularly convincing against the youngsters Bernard Tomic and Milos Raonic, whom he faced in the third and fourth rounds, respectively, en route to his 35th consecutive Grand Slam quarter-final appearance (the 39th of his career, only two from Jimmy Connors’s record of 41).
What can we expect from this match? It is difficult to say. In my view, it all depends on how Tsonga will start the match. If he arrives on court ready to do battle, the match could really go both ways. However, if he starts like he did against the other top 10 players last season, it should be short work for Federer.
Personally, I think that Roger Federer will reach a 33rd Grand Slam semi-final, but not without sweating quite a bit.
 Andy Murray vs Jérémy Chardy
(Head-to-head: 4-1 Murray)
The Frenchman has won their last meeting, in Cincinnati, but the circumstances of his win, even though deserved, are not cause for worry when it comes to what may happen today, or if the Scotsman will keep it in mind when the match starts.
Chardy has caused the biggest surprise of the tournament when he stunned no 6 seed Juan Martín del Potro in the third round, hitting his massive forehand like never before, and using his precise serve to great effect for most of the five sets the two players disputed. He then defeated Andreas Seppi to reach his first career Grand Slam quarter-final.
As for Murray, having won all his previous matches in straight sets, he hasn’t been really tested since the beginning of the tournament. His match against Ricardas Berankis was a bit more difficult, but a lot of the issues faced by the Brit have been of his own doing more than because of the game of a rival he knew very well for having practised many times with him in the recent past.
Can Chardy repeat his exploit and upset another seed? Yes. Will he upset the U.S. Open champion? I don’t think so.
After all, Murray is known for his strategy skills, and he will surely adapt to the situation, and to the game of his rival, slowly building his own web around Chardy’s game to try and get him neatly trapped into it. Logically, he shall succeed, too, unless he starts becoming overly impatient.
It should, nonetheless, be a very entertaining match, especially if Chardy pushes Murray to be more aggressive.
(Photos: Getty Images via Zimbio)