The first time these two met in a Grand Slam quarterfinal, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga ended a long-standing Roger Federer record and, more importantly, defeated him in a memorable five-set comeback.
It was the Wimbledon 2011 quarterfinals, and Federer had won the first two sets and was expected to win the match; after all he was 178-0 after winning the first two sets in Grand Slam matches.
But records are made to be broken, and that’s just what the enigmatic Frenchman did, taking the next three sets 6-4 6-4 6-4 to move through to the semifinals. For the record, Tsonga fell to Novak Djokovic, who went on to defeat Rafael Nadal in the final.
Coming back from two sets down to win is the kind of match that makes the victor smile to themselves when they think about it. No doubt memories of this match will pass through both players’ minds at some point on Wednesday, and Federer’s recollections won’t be happy ones.
The second seed here, Federer’s first week in Melbourne has been resoundingly good. A picture of consistency, Federer has treated each opponent to a different aspect of his enviable game each match.
There was a serving exhibition for Milos Raonic, a reminder not to get too far ahead of yourself for Bernard Tomic, some clean winners for Nikolay Davydenko and a lesson in the importance of consistency for Benoit Paire.
Meanwhile, Tsonga has been busily going about his business; his most impressive win to date a four-set defeat of ninth seed and countryman Richard Gasquet in the fourth round. Tsonga has arguably had a softer draw than Federer, not that this will do him any harm on Wednesday night.
The Frenchman’s record against Federer, like it is for most players, is in the red. He’s won just three of 11 matches, and on the one occasion these two met here – in 2010 – the Swiss accounted for Tsonga in straight sets, a memory that will certainly bring a smile to Federer’s face.
“It's going to be, of course, very difficult. He beat me here once or twice – no, once,” said Tsonga.
“But, anyway, I lost many times against this guy. So, of course, you know, play against him, it's going to be, you know, a big challenge for me.
“I think when I play against him, you need a plan because if you just play like this with him, you will lose for sure.”
And that plan must be built around the seventh seed’s serve. Tsonga must serve well if he’s to stand a chance – this was the case at Wimbledon when his serve was on fire.
On the other side of the net, Federer, who has been serving exceptionally well, will be looking to keep that going – he hasn’t been broken once.
“Not having played any tournaments before, this is obviously a great thing I have going,” said Federer.
“But I go into matches expecting to be broken. The more you talk about it, the more so you're going to be broken.”
Another thing that hasn’t been broken is Federer’s consecutive Grand Slam quarterfinal record, now up to 35.
“I'm happy to be in another one,” he said after the romp over Raonic.
“I didn't actually think about it once when I was on court. I was thinking about it before the Tomic match, for some reason. Does it drive me? I don't know, I'm not sure. It's a nice record to have. Obviously as it's ongoing, you try to keep working at it.”
And should the former No.1 keep playing the way he has to date, there’s every chance he’ll add to his Grand Slam tournament record this Sunday.