Four-time champion Roger Federer and two-time runner-up Andy Murray will clash in a marquee semifinal Friday at the Australian Open.
Wednesday's quarterfinals in Melbourne saw the second-seeded Federer outlast seventh seed and 2008 runner-up Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 7-6 (7-4), 4-6, 7-6 (7-4), 3-6, 6-3 in the nightcap, while a third-seeded Murray charged past unseeded Frenchman Jeremy Chardy 6-4, 6-1, 6-2 at Rod Laver Arena.
The former world No. 1 Federer is the reigning Wimbledon champion who last titled in Melbourne three years ago, while Murray is the reigning U.S. Open champ who lost in back-to-back Aussie finals in 2010 and 2011.
Federer and Murray will square off in two days, while the other men's semi will pit current world No. 1 Novak Djokovic against fourth seed David Ferrer on Thursday. Djokovic has won the last two titles here and was also the Aussie Open champion in 2008. He's trying to become the first three-peat Aussie champ in the Open Era.
The 17-time men's Grand Slam king Federer reached his 10th straight Aussie semi by holding off a game Tsonga. The super Swiss is now 9-3 lifetime versus Tsonga, including 3-1 in Grand Slam action. Federer also beat Tsonga in an Aussie Open semifinal back in 2010.
Federer snuck past the flashy French Tsonga despite striking only six aces, compared to 20 for the match loser. Tsonga also recorded more service breaks (5-4) and more winners (66-49) than Federer, but when the Day-10 smoke cleared, the Swiss master landed on top, as he so often does, after 3 hours, 34 minutes of quality tennis.
The two stars were embroiled in a tight battle through four sets, but Federer took charge in the fifth by running out to a 4-1 lead. He would hold on from there to set-up the much-anticipated battle with Murray.
The 31-year-old Federer converted on his fifth match point while serving after Tsonga saved four match points in the previous game.
"I thought he played very aggressive," Federer said of Tsonga, who stayed in touch Wednesday with huge groundstrokes and big serves. "I love those four-set or five-set thrillers and I was part of one tonight."
Meanwhile, Murray thoroughly dominated Chardy on Wednesday and has yet to drop a set at this Down Under fortnight.
The British star raced out to a 4-0 lead in the opening set. Chardy earned a break while winning the next three games before Murray regained control and never looked back.
"I started the match pretty well I thought," Murray said. "Then when he got a break back in the first set, I became a bit tight."
The 25-year-old Murray committed just three unforced errors while taking the second set in 32 minutes. He needed only 35 more minutes to reach his 12th Grand Slam semifinal.
"I've done a good job so far in this tournament. I can't be disappointed with where my game's at," Murray said.
Murray shrugged off comments by the British media that he was upset with an almost full schedule of day matches, while Federer was given cooler night slots at Laver.
"The scheduling for me is part and parcel of playing in really any tennis tournament," Murray said. "It's tough to make the schedule perfect for every single player."
Murray will face Federer for a 20th time, with the British star leading their lifetime series, 10-9. Murray, however, has never beaten Federer at a Grand Slam event (0-3).
On Thursday, the five-time major titlist Djokovic will meet Ferrer for a 15th time, with the Serbian star holding a 9-5 lifetime series lead. Djokovic beat Ferrer in the quarterfinals here a year ago and in 2008. The Serb is 4-0 in their career Grand Slam encounters.