MELBOURNE // The fifth seed Jo Wilfried-Tsonga produced a sparkling performance that rivalled an overhead fireworks display to beat James Blake in the fourth round of the Australian Open. Tsonga, last year's beaten finalist, won the match 6-4 6-4 7-6 to set up a quarter-final with Fernando Verdasco, who had earlier defeated the British fourth seed Andy Murray. The fireworks early in the third set were part of celebrations to commemorate Australia Day, which marks the arrival of the first convicts and guards south of Sydney in 1788 and is considered the first stage of an organised European settlement in the country.
Tsonga, 23, who had kept warm by jogging and shadow boxing during the 10-minute display, was immediately broken and while the ninth-seeded Blake served for the set, the Frenchman was able to break back and force it into a tie-break, which he won 7-3. "It was difficult to serve just after the fireworks. But I did the job and I'm happy to be here," Tsonga said. "It's a big performance for me because James is a good player."
Tsonga added that he was surprised that Verdasco had beaten Murray in five sets but he was looking forward to tackling the 14th-seeded Spaniard. "It's going to be a tough match. Fernando played very well," he added. "Fernando is a really good player. He won the Davis Cup last year and since then he's very confident with his game." *Reuters