final in Melbourne, victory in the Davis Cup, regret at Roland-Garros… The five decisive moments in Jo-Wilfried Tsonga’s career

He decided to bow. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, the current 220th in the world and former number 5 at ATP, announced on Wednesday April 6 on social networks that he will be retiring after Roland-Garros. A page turns to tricolor tennis, with one of the most famous musketeers retiring. With 18 titles, including two Masters 1000, Manceau has the second best track record in French men’s tennis behind Yannick Noah in the professional era. If he often touched the Grand Slam title, he never managed to win one of the four majors to succeed Noah, winner of Roland-Garros in 1983.

Despite a career spent in the heart of the Big 4’s reign (Federer, Nadal, Djokovic and Murray), de Manceau managed to find their way and count 45. wins against the Top 10. Tsonga even beat each of the members of the Big 4 twice, reaching the final of the Masters in 2011. A look back at five moments that marked his career.

2008: the first bang with the final in Melbourne

The turning point in the career of Jo-Wilfried Tsonga is written in Melbourne, four years after his debut on the professional circuit in 2004. As of January 2008, the 22-year-old is still relatively unknown, albeit 38th in the world. But in Melbourne, he leaves its mark on the tournament. He first caused a sensation by eliminating in the first round, Andy Murray went on to place number 9.

Chaining the wins, he sacked Sam Warburg, Guillermo García-López and his compatriot Richard Gasquet in the round of 16, before knocking out Russian Mikhail Youzhny as the 14th player in the world. New performance in the semi-finals, where Tsonga defeated Spaniard Rafael Nadal authoritatively in three short sets. The world number 2, already a three-time winner of Roland-Garros, will confide even after his defeat that he felt he was fighting a “he couldn’t stop avalanche”

Novak Djokovic and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga pose with their respective trophies after their final at the Australian Open, January 27, 2008. (GREG HOUT / AFP)

But his dream stops in the final because of the then number 3 in the world, Serbian Novak Djokovic, who won in four sets (6-4, 4-6, 3-6, 6-7) to win his first Grand Slam tournament. Despite this lost final, Tsonga had an incredible career that saw him reach the world top 20 for the first time (18th). “I wasn’t in my world. I went from the man who is 300th in the world, who would almost give you a small piece of bread to eat, to the man who is there, in front of 15,000 people shouting his name !” † the Frenchman would remember years later.

2008: first Masters 1000 at Bercy

The year 2008 ended in the best way for Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, then 23 years old. After his lost final in Melbourne, he kept the same momentum and won his first title in Bangkok and then his first Masters 1000 in Bercy. Over-motivated in front of the French crowd, Tsonga managed a clear run, firing four of the world’s eleven best players: Serb Novak Djokovic, Americans Andy Roddick and James Blake, then Argentinian and defending champion David Nalbandian in the latter. (6-3, 4-6, 6-4).

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga won the Paris-Bercy Masters 1000 on November 2, 2008 against Argentinian David Nalbandian.  (PHILIPPE LECOEUR / MAXPPP)

True to his game, he smothers his opponent in the final thanks to his first-class quality and his powerful play from the baseline. “I have no words to describe what happened this week, it’s just unbelievable. I won a tournament that everyone dreams of winning.” he said after his final. BEEAfter Guy Forget in 1991 and Sébastien Grosjean in 2001, he is the third Frenchman to win at Bercy. It’s also the last to date. This success subsequently enabled him to participate in the Masters, which brings together the eight best players of the season. lAt the end of the season, he climbed to 6th in the world.

2011: spectacular victory over Roger Federer and semi-final at Wimbledon

That year Jo-Wilfried Tsonga reached the quarter-finals of Wimbledon where he met Swiss Roger Federer, 3rd on the ATP and already crowned six times on the London lawn. Then two sets led to nothing, the Habs completely turned the outcome of this match and won (3-6, 6-7, 6-4, 6-4, 6-4). “It was fantastic. I’m so happy, it’s crazy. He’s the greatest champion in my sport. I’m so happy to beat him, especially on grass, his favorite surface”, he rejoices after his victoryIt is also the Swiss’ first Grand Slam defeat after leading two sets to nil.

Tsonga qualifies for Wimbledon semifinals after beating Swiss Roger Federer, June 29, 2011. (LEON NEAL/AFP)

In the semifinals, he will face the world’s number 2 Novak Djokovic for their eighth confrontation. The Serb, who becomes the world number 1 at the end of the tournament, wins in four sets 7-6, 6-2, 6-7, 6-3. Despite his defeat, Tsonga gains confidence, and this ends with his second participation in the Masters, with the icing on the cake losing a final against… Roger Federer. This rise in power will result in several fine achievements the following year: a quarterfinal at Roland-Garros, making him the first Frenchman of the Open era to reach this level in the four “Major”, a new semifinal at Wimbledon (beaten by John Isner). He finished the year 5th in the world, his best ranking. And he graced himself with silver at the 2012 London Olympics, beating the Bryan brothers in the doubles final while being associated with Mchaël Llodra.

2013: the regret of the lost semifinal at Roland-Garros

The 2013 edition of Roland-Garros seems to be smiling at Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. A year after his first quarterfinal in Paris (lost to Djokovic), Manceau has a string of victories to his name, including another match against Roger Federer, then 3rd in the world, in three rounds, which will allow him to reach the semifinals. Thirty years after the coronation of Yannick Noah, the story finally seems to lead a Frenchman to the heights of Parisian soil. Mainly because his opponent David Ferrer (5th on ATP) seems within reach. But Tsonga completely misses this encounter.

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga lost in three sets to David Ferrer in the semifinal of Roland-Garros, June 7, 2013. (THOMAS COEX / AFP)

The Frenchman cannot relax or find his rhythm. He lost in three sets (6-1, 7-6, 6-2), and the Spaniard qualified for the Grand Slam final for the first time in his career. the sense of incompleteness is enormous. After the match, “I wanted to break everything, mutilate myself”, explains Tsonga, frustrated that he has not been able to show his best level for “to be” public. His loss in 2015 to Stan Wawrinka in four sets leaves him “disappointed but I have no regrets”

2017: the conquest of the silver salad bowl

Apart from the Grand Slams, the silver bowl was still missing from his list. Line checked in 2017. France knew his disappointments from the past, especially that of the final lost to Switzerland in 2014. This disillusionment with the Helvetians was also that of Tsonga, then injured and unable to defend his chances, who does not want to experience the same scenario again. Of all the campaigns since his first game in 2008, the Davis Cup has been close to his heart. Yannick Noah, who was then in charge of the French team, formed his team around him.

In 2017 France won the Davis Cup.  Nicolas Mahut, Julien Benneteau, Yannick Noah, Richard Gasquet and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga pose with the trophy, Nov. 26, 2017. (DENIS CHARLET/AFP)

In the final, against Belgium, he tied the Blues by beating Steve Darcis on the first day. If he doesn’t renew his performance against David Goffin the next day, Lucas Pouille delivers the Blues and has the Silver Salad Bowl lifted, the tenth in its history, sixteen years after the last captured in 2001.

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