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Roland-Garros: the tears of Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who is ending his career


This time, it’s over for good: Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, former French number 1 and 5th in the world, was eliminated on Tuesday in the first round of Roland-Garros by the Norwegian Casper Ruud (8th in the world) 6-7 (6 /8), 7-6 (7/4), 6-2, 7-6 (7/0) and, at 37, puts away his rackets for good, as announced. Despite the unconditional and noisy support of the public, despite a resistance sometimes worthy of his heyday, Tsonga – injured in the right shoulder at the very end of the game and in tears on the match point – bows out after 17 and a half years on the circuit where he built one of the finest records in French tennis.

A beautiful last dance

Before leaving this world stage where he conquered the public with his spectacular game, Tsonga offered himself a beautiful last dance: 3h49 of pleasure, offering the spectators a spectacle which at times reminded us of the great player that he was. Flashes of the Tsonga of yesteryear thus crossed the court and made the audience shiver with pleasure until the end: a few big serves, powerful forehands followed at the net to conclude with a huge smash, series of huge slaps right that end up overtaking his opponent.

In the tie break of the first set, it was even the Grand Jo – very different from the one who has been losing in the first round in recent months – who found himself on the court: powerful, physical, reassembled. If he missed his first two set points, he converted the third provoking an explosion of joy in the public and a howl of rage on his part. But a few games later, Ruud scored the first break of the game to lead 4-3. Vigilant, Tsonga immediately unbroken by countering an attack from Ruud with his devastating forehand.

Tsonga sore right shoulder

The two men arrived at the decisive game, but this time it was Tsonga who cracked. The third set quickly turned to the advantage of the Norwegian who managed a first break to lead 3-1 then a second to complete the set. Contrary to what one might fear, Tsonga did not collapse. And he even managed the white break to lead 6-5 in the 4th set. After a moving Marseillaise sung by nearly 15,000 people during the change of sides, Tsonga then served to push the match into a decisive set.

Unfortunately, it was an injured Tsonga who then came to serve: he was suddenly unable to hit the ball normally to the point of serving with a spoon. With a visibly very sore right shoulder, which could be a problem for his participation in the doubles with Richard Gasquet, he let Ruud come back at 6-6 and called the physiotherapist before playing the tie break.

A match point played in tears

The latter did not work a miracle, neither did Tsonga. And his ultimate match point, he played it in tears in front of a standing stadium. Since his first match on the ATP circuit in September 2004, a victory against the then No.6 Carlos Moya, until the latter lost at Roland-Garros, Tsonga can boast of being one of only three players to have beaten Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic when they were world No.1. He is also one of only three players to have beaten these three as well as Andy Murray in Grand Slams.

Tsonga has one of the finest records in French tennis: 18 titles (only Noah has done better), 45 victories against the Top 10, at least two victories against all members of the Big4 (Federer, Nadal, Djokovic and Murray), quarter-finals played in all four Majors and a final at the Australian Open (2008).

The biggest winners of French tennis in the last 15 years

Not to mention a silver medal in doubles with Michaël Llodra at the London Olympics in 2012 and exploits in the Davis Cup, up to the title in 2017, with his friends Gilles Simon, Richard Gasquet and Gaël Monfils, the new Musketeers find themselves at three and soon at two since Simon will stop at the end of the year.

All that Tsonga will miss is this Grand Slam title which crowns the greatest. A title all the more complicated to win as he made his career during the reign of the Big 4. He had his chance in 2008 when he reached the final of the Australian Open where he yielded to Novak Djokovic who won the first of his 20 Majors to date.




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