Roger Federer faced his first tough test of the 2012 ATP season, outlasting Italian Andreas Seppi 63 57 64 to advance to the semifinals. I did not see any of the match until 5-4 in the second set, where I learned that Roger had been down 5-1. He got back even at 5-5, but then Seppi took the final two games to take the set. From what I saw at the end of that set, Seppi played very well - highly unlike himself to play such mesmerizing tennis. He was playing aggressively and pushing Fed off balance with his shotmaking. Anyways, the third set pretty even, but Roger got the break early on and rode it out to victory.
After the match, it was made public that Federer suffered a back injury in his second round match against Grega Zemlja. He wasn't even sure that he would be able to play against Seppi, but obviously he chose to play and came up with the win, even if it was with greater difficulty than expected. Whether or not this injury affected his play does not really matter since he came up with the win. He says it is just a muscle problem so it is not that serious, which is positive news.
In other matches on the day, Nadal beat Mikhail Youzhny 64 64 in a pretty comfortable match for the Spaniard. Tsonga easily cruised past Albert Ramos 62 61, and Gael Monfils swept past Viktor Troicki 62 63. So with the quarterfinal action complete, the semifinal matches will be Roger Federer vs Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Rafael Nadal vs Gael Monfils. Nadal should beat La Monf, though Gael does have a win in Doha over Nadal. The Federer/Tsonga match could honestly go either way (as with many of their encounters). This is the 5th time in the past 5 tournaments that these two have met. For Roger, the outcome of the match is unimportant. He has already gotten some great match play under his belt heading into the first Slam of the year, and if he is struggling with his physical health, he could be ripe for the picking against an in-form Tsonga. We will see how much effort Roger puts into the match and how his body holds up, but right now the most important thing is staying healthy for the Australian Open.
No matter what happens, it should be a great day of semifinal action in Doha.