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Birthday Boy Tsonga Reaches QFs; Raonic To Face Wawrinka

Monte-Carlo, Monaco

Tsonga© AFP/Getty ImagesJo-Wilfried Tsonga celebrated his 29th birthday with victory over Fabio Fognini.

Ninth seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga celebrated his 29th birthday as he set a quarter-final clash with Roger Federer at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters, coming from a set down to beat Fabio Fognini 5-7, 6-3, 6-0 under sunny skies on Thursday.

Fognini looked to have the upper hand after clinching the opener, but mental lapses proved costly for the Italian as Tsonga took advantage. The Frenchman saved the six break points he faced in the second set to level the match and lost only four points in the decider as he claimed victory in just under two hours. He was congratulated by the Court Central crowd with a rendition of ‘Bon Anniversaire’. 

"He was playing well, coming into the net, being aggressive [in the first set]," said Tsonga. "But little by little the match became more even. In the middle of the second set, I started serving better. At the end I was able to dominate physically, and it was more difficult for him to win the long rallies that he was winning more easily in the first set."

Tsonga is bidding to reach the semi-finals at this ATP World Tour Masters 1000 clay-court tournament for the second year in a row.

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Eighth seed Milos Raonic reached the quarter-finals at the Monte-Carlo Country Club for the first time as he dismissed Spaniard Tommy Robredo 6-4, 6-3 in 73 minutes. The Canadian didn’t face a break point as he recorded his second win in two meetings with Robredo.

"I'm very pleased with myself,” said Raonic. “I showed a lot of discipline. I struggled in the beginning and was able to figure it out towards the end of that set. I gave myself a lot of opportunities after. Serving well was a big thing for me today, and I think I was moving well and was able to dictate with my forehand. There's a lot of good things I'm doing and I think I can do better so I'm looking forward to seeing how that goes.”

The 23-year-old Raonic goes on to face third seed and Australian Open champion Stanislas Wawrinka, who was given a walkover when Nicolas Almagro withdrew due to pain in his left foot. 

“I woke up this morning with a severe pain in my left foot that prevented me from even walking normally,” explained Almagro. “After consulting with the doctor for a long time, we decided together that it was better for me not to play today. I deeply regret this because I was expecting a lot from this tournament that I like so much.”

Raonic has lost his previous two meetings with Wawrinka, though this will be their first clay-court contest. “Against Stan I've struggled in the past, but I think it's different this time around,” said the Toronto native. “I feel like I'm doing a lot of things well and I'm looking forward to that challenge."

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