Stan Wawrinka wins after heated exchange with Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in Australian Open quarter-final
US Open champion argues with Frenchman before sealing semi-final place in Melbourne with Swiss compatriot Roger Federer up next
Stan Wawrinka engaged in a war of words with Jo-Wilfried Tsonga before winning the only argument that mattered on Tuesday, storming into the Australian Open semi-finals with a 7-6 (7-2), 6-4, 6-3 win.
Wawrinka bickered heatedly with the 12th seed during a change of ends after the first set before putting his aggression to better use, wrapping up the one-sided match in two hours and 15 minutes on a sun-bathed Rod Laver Arena.
Fourth seed Wawrinka will battle compatriot Roger Federer, who toppled German giant-killer Mischa Zverev in the late quarter-final.
Wawrinka, the 2014 champion, put in his most complete performance of the tournament against Tsonga, sending 41 sweetly struck winners whistling past the out-of-sorts Frenchman.
Tsonga put up some stout resistance early in the match but that crumbled in the first set tiebreak when he elected not to play at a blazing backhand pass.
It landed flush in the corner, giving Wawrinka four set points and Tsonga folded on the first of them.
The pair retired to their chairs between sets and suddenly began sniping at each other.
“What did you say? You’re the one looking at me and talking to me. What are you looking for?” Wawrinka said to Tsonga in French. “Come on, let it go. Did I look at you once?”
Tsonga’s best response came in the second set when he broke Wawrinka in the seventh game after the Swiss botched a simple volley and hammered another unforced error.
But after Tsonga handed serve straight back, broken to love, tension threatened to boil over again as Wawrinka came forward to smash a winner directly at the Frenchman.
The Swiss waved an apology but Tsonga walked away.
While a semi-final against Federer holds no fear for Wawrinka, he said he was fully aware his compatriot would be the crowd favourite as he bids for an 18th grand slam title.
“It’s going to be tough to have some fans, but hopefully a few will cheer for me,” he said in a court-side interview.