TORONTO - Roger Federer marked his 33rd birthday by beating David Ferrer for the 15th straight time to reach the semi-finals of the ATP Tour's Toronto Masters tournament on Friday. A sellout crowd sang Happy Birthday to the second seed early in the second set, and cheered post-match as the 17-time grand slam winner was presented with an oversized chocolate cake to mark the occasion.
Federer remains a perfect 4-0 on matches played on his birthday. "At 33 it's a dream to be playing tennis at this level," said Federer, who lost his first set to Ferrer since 2010 as the Spanish fifth seed took the match into a deciding third set after losing ten previous sets in a row against the Swiss.
"I really enjoyed the match, it's always a challenge against David. My goals now are to stay injury-free and try and go out on my terms. I have two titles this year and I hope to win more, It all starts again tomorrow on the court." Federer will face his next test against another Spaniard when he takes on Feliciano Lopez, a winner over Canadian sixth seed and 2013 finalist Milos Raonic 6-4, 6-7 (5/7), 6-3.
Federer boasts an unblemished 10-0 record in that series, which began 11 years ago. Raonic had reached semi-finals in nine of 11 previous events and was coming off a title last week in Washington. Lopez saved six break points to hold for 3-2 in the third set on his way to the upset win. Lopez will compete in his third career semi-final at a Masters 1000 and is seeking his first win.
Earlier, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga beat Andy Murray for the first time in six years with a 7-6 (7/5), 4-6, 6-4 win which took him into final four against Grigor Dimitrov. The young Bulgarian booked his spot by beating South African Kevin Anderson 5-7, 7-5, 7-6 (8/6) in a match lasting three hours. Anderson fired 15 aces, but committed four consecutive forehand errors in the final game off the loss.
Murray has not won a title since his historic success at Wimbledon 13 months ago. It was the second upset of a top 10 player in as many days for Tsonga, who knocked out world number one Novak Djokovic in the third round. Tsonga, seeded 13th, stood 1-9 in his career head-to-head series with world number nine Murray, whose ranking is at its lowest since 2008.
Tsonga's only previous win over Murray came in the Australian Open first round in 2008, the year the Frenchman burst into prominence as a finalist at Melbourne Park. "It's going better and better every day," said Tsonga. "These last couple of months I practised a lot because I didn't win many matches. I also did it because I was not really ready after the knee problem I had last year. Now I feel like I'm ready to play. I'm sure I'm playing better than before." Tsonga ended with 17 aces, 42 winners and 35 unforced errors in his typical big-hitting style. Murray had 20 winners and 26 unforced errors. Tsonga has now reached the semi-finals in three of four Canadian editions.