By Ian Ransom
MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Stan Wawrinka dismissed his heated exchange with Jo-Wilfried Tsonga as just the normal tension of a tennis match but was pleased his aggression could drive him to a semi-final berth at the Australian Open on Tuesday.
The 2014 champion bickered with Tsonga as the players rested on their chairs before the second set at Rod Laver Arena and then proceeded to dominate the French 12th seed, winning 7-6(2) 6-4 6-3.
“What did you say? You’re the one looking at me and talking to me. What are you looking for?” Swiss fourth seed Wawrinka barked at Tsonga in French during the exchange.
“Come on, let it go. Did I look at you once?”
Wawrinka, who raised eyebrows by smashing a volley into Martin Klizan’s groin during their first round match, also fired one at Tsonga during their quarter-final.
He raised his hand in apology and Tsonga walked away.
The pair shook hands mechanically after the match and neither player was interested in sharing details about their argument.
Wawrinka said they were, maybe, “looking at each other” too much early in their match.
“I think the beginning of the match was quite tense from both sides,” the three-times grand slam champion said.
“I think it’s not only a grand slam quarter-final, it’s a tennis match. You can always have some tension. Everybody goes on the court to win the matches.
“Things can happen. But at the end there is no problem after the match.”
The barrel-chested Swiss had no problem during the match either, breaking former finalist Tsonga three successive times between the second and third sets before closing out a confidence-building win he rated his best of the tournament.
“It’s not the first time I have some argument on the court,” said Wawrinka.
“I think I have enough experience to stay focused on what I’m doing during the match, on my own game, that’s what I did today.”
Wawrinka was speaking as compatriot Roger Federer closed in on victory against Mischa Zverev in the other quarter-final.
Wawrinka has long lived in Federer’s shadow but has shared some great moments with the Swiss master, including their Davis Cup success in 2014 and a rare win over him at the French Open quarter-finals during his run to the title.
“It’s always been different in my career when I played against Roger,” he said.
“When I step on the court, it’s always something special because he’s the best player because of everything he’s done in his career, because the way he’s playing, because he’s Swiss, because he’s a really close friend, because of everything we’ve been together.
“It’s always something special.”
(Additional reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Sudipto Ganguly)