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Magic of Melbourne, Davis Cup and regrets at Roland: the career of Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in 10 dates

September 15, 2004: Coup d’brilliance against Moya

Revelation. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga is 19 years old and is in his first professional season, when he signs his first feat of arms with the big boys: a victory against Carlos Moya, then 6th in the world, during the Beijing tournament. 6-3, 6-3 in 55 minutes. Clear. Already identified as a hope of world tennis because of his results in the youth categories, Tsonga still attracts a little more light.

January 24, 2008: Nadal slapped in the Australian Open half

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Tsonga, retirement after Roland

04/06/2022 At 6:49 PM

Dramatic change of dimension. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga is the attraction of the Australian Open in January 2008. Melbourne is on fire for this 22-year-old Frenchman, to the tunes of Muhammad Ali. In half, “Jo” hits hard, very hard. On the other side of the net, a heavyweight who will end up on the mat: Rafael Nadal. 6-2, 6-3, 6-2, the violence of the score is final.

“It was madness. I achieved everything I wanted, even closing my eyes. It was just magic,” Tsonga said. In the final, the magic does not operate against Novak Djokovic. Beaten in four sets, Manceau will never go so far in a Grand Slam again. But his fortnight remains the unforgettable springboard for a remarkable career.

Henri’s tale: Murray, Nadal, Djokovic, meet Jo-Wilfried “Ali” Tsonga 2008

June 29, 2011: A first in Federer’s career

Tsonga has done the unthinkable. In the quarter-finals of Wimbledon, the Frenchman is led two sets to zero by Roger Federer, six times crowned in the temple of tennis. Winning the first two rounds, the Swiss knows. He has already been in this position 178 times in Grand Slams. He never lost…until that famous encounter.

“Jo” manages to reverse the trend: 3-6, 6-7, 6-4, 6-4, 6-4, Federer bites the dust on a London lawn that is no longer his. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga will fall again against Novak Djokovic in the next round. He will only taste the last four of Wimbledon once, the following year.

February 27, 2012: Tsonga invites himself to the “Top 5”

Tsonga took a little time to confirm his explosion at the start of 2008. Four years later, he is indeed part of the caste of the best players in the world. This is materialized by his entry into the “Top 5” of the ATP rankings in February 2012 (5th). He is the sixth Frenchman to achieve this, after Yannick Noah, Henri Leconte, Guy Forget, Cédric Pioline and Sébastien Grosjean.

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga facing Novak Djokovic, at Roland-Garros, in the quarter-finals of the 2012 edition.

Credit: Eurosport

June 5, 2012: The unsinkable Djokovic resists him

Four. Like the number of match points Tsonga had in this Roland-Garros quarter-final against Novak Djokovic. The world number 1 has the last word: 6-1, 5-7, 5-7, 7-6(6), 6-1. “Jo” has perhaps touched on what will always separate him from the legends of the game. This impalpable, unspeakable difference, the complexity of which he summed up well by declaring at the same time “don’t have much to regret on these match points” and : “I am responsible. No problem. I am responsible.”

August 4, 2012: Olympic silver medalist in doubles

A medal in the absence of a coronation. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga did not return empty-handed from London and the 2012 Olympic Games. Beaten with Michaël Llodra by the Bryan brothers, he shared the podium with two other Frenchmen: Julien Benneteau and Richard Gasquet. “For me, it’s one of my greatest moments in sport, in tennis. I put it at the same height as my victory at Bercy“, he confides to our colleagues from 20 minutes.

Gasquet, Tsonga, Llodra, Benneteau, London 2012

Credit: AFP

June 7, 2013: A bitter failure at Roland

Funny atmosphere for a semi-final of a Frenchman at Roland-Garros. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga takes on a confident David Ferrer, after taking out Roger Federer in three sets in the quarter. But when he entered the Philippe-Chatrier court, the popular enthusiasm did not live up to what he had hoped for.

Rafael Nadal has just beaten Novak Djokovic after an epic encounter. It’s time for decompression for the sparse public. It is not Tsonga’s level of play that will rekindle the flame: he is swept away, 6-1, 7-6, 6-2. “JWT” ​​will only replay a half of the French Open once, in 2015, then beaten by Stan Wawrinka.

August 10, 2014: Three giants struck down for a second M1000

A week in levitation. Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray and Roger Federer. Here are three of the players that Jo-Wilfried Tsonga fired in Toronto in 2014. The Frenchman won the second Masters 1000 of his career there, six years after the first, at Bercy. “(In 2008), I imposed myself with my guts and my heart. Here I won this title with my level of play“, he then considers.
In the final, it was Federer who lost to Tsonga, 7-5, 7-6. In half, Grigor Dimitrov – another member of the “Top 10”! – had also yielded in two sets, just like Djokovic. Only Murray snatched a set from “Jo”. “I beat four great playerssupports Tsonga, at the end of a period of scarcity. Of course I doubted, there are always difficult times, but you know what to expect when you decide to be a professional tennis player. I kept believing in myself.”

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Roger Federer in 2014 in Toronto

Credit: Getty Images

November 26, 2017: The conquest of the silver salad bowl

collective consecration. Absent in the final lost against Serbia in 2010, Tsonga was in the failure of 2014 against Switzerland (and he will be in 2018 against Croatia). He is in the game, at Stade Pierre-Mauroy, against Belgium.

On the first day, he beat Steve Darcis to put his people back on track. On the other hand, he fails to close the debates against David Goffin. Lucas Pouille takes charge against Darcis and the France team embraces its tenth silver bowl, sixteen years after the previous one. Tsonga is part of this adventure, and in terms of its importance in French tennis in the 21st century, it is only fair.

September 22, 2019: He wins his 18th title

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga manages to stem his decline. Descended beyond the world “Top 200”, he rose to 61st place then won, in Metz, the 18th title of his career. In the final, he got the better of Aljaz Bedene (6-7, 7-6, 6-3), far from the luster of his great matches of yesteryear. But with 18 ATP titles, he is all the more firmly established in second place in history, among the French, behind Noah and his 23 trophies.

His end to the 2019 season looks like a swan song. What followed was a litany of physical glitches and growing weariness. He plays two matches on the main circuit in 2020 (year hit by the Covid), nine in 2021, six in 2022… until the announcement, this Wednesday April 6, of his retirement at the end of the next edition of Roland-Garros (May 22-June 5).

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga still has his eyes on Roland

Credit: Getty Images

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