Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, the brightest of the four musketeers retires

At almost 37, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga retired after the Roland-Garros 2022 tournament on Tuesday. The former world number 5 retires with one of the best records in French tennis. Of the generation of the Four Musketeers, in the midst of Richard Gasquet, Gaël Monfils and Gilles Simon, Manceau was the flagship. In the Open era, he is also one of the best Frenchmen.

It’s time to dump her and move on. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga announced it on April 6: 121i edition of the Roland-Garros tournament, from May 22 to June 5, would be his last appearance on the tracks. After this encounter, and after four years marked by injuries, the Frenchman, who fell to 220i World ranking of the ATP rankings, ended up hanging after his elimination in the first round, on Tuesday, May 24, by the world number 8 Casper Ruud (6-7, 7-6, 6-2, 7-6).

“My head tells me ‘you can play all my life’, but my body reminds me that my abilities to overcome me are no longer there. My body tells me ‘you are no longer able to go beyond what you “I used to do it every day,” said the tennis player, who celebrated his 37th birthday several weeks ago.i April 17 anniversary.

For the past four years, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga has been the only shadow of the player who was faced with a cascade of injuries: meniscus crack, tummy tear, abdominal tear, back pain, diagnosis of sickle cell disease … From 2018 until now, he has never done better than a third round of Grand Slam and lost eight times. In the Masters 1000, the highest tournament category behind the Grand Slams, their results were even worse and their absences even more numerous. An end of career not very similar to what the best French player of the last 20 years has achieved.

2008: The Tsonga explosion and the birth of the Four Musketeers

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga was one of the best juniors in the world before having a difficult start on the professional circuit, due to a double herniated disc at the age of 19 that almost cost him his career. The year 2007 is the first in which he can express himself without restraint and show that the hopes placed in him are justified. Its results and progress, from 212i place in January at 43i instead, allow him to be elected Revelation of the Year.

At the beginning of 2008, the Frenchman shook the world of tennis by climbing, against all odds, to the final of the Australian Open, beating especially Andy Murray in the first round and especially crushing Rafael Nadal in the semifinals. Despite good opposition, “I” lost in the final to an evolving young prodigy: Novak Djokovic. It doesn’t happen to Yannick Noah, the last Frenchman to win a Grand Slam tournament with Roland-Garros in 2003. But he appears, at 22, as the new head of French tennis.

That same year, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga won again the Paris-Bercy Masters 1000 in November against David Nalbandian, ten years after the last French victory in a tournament of this magnitude (Sébastien Grosjean, also in Paris- Bercy).

A new enthusiastic expression is born in the press: the four musketeers, or the new musketeers. After Jean Borotra, Jacques Brugnon, Henri Cochet and René Lacoste who reigned in the 1920s and 1930s, French tennis has four new players promised a bright future: Richard Gasquet (22), Gaël Monfils (22), Gilles Simon (24 years old) and therefore Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (23 years old).

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga after his victory in the Paris-Bercy Masters 1000 against David Nalbandian on November 2, 2008. © Lionel Cironneau, PA

Only Grand Slam tournaments have rejected him

The promises of this generation of musketeers will not be fulfilled, or only partially. The Big Four, nicknamed the infernal quartet Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray, crushed the men’s table for years, leaving only crumbs for competition. The four Frenchmen have never competed with them. Unlike Stan Wawrinka, Juan Martin Del Potro and Marin Cilic, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga has never been able to take advantage of the few opportunities to add a Grand Slam to his roster. Still, he is the best player out of the game.

He will have remained number 1 Frenchman for 308 weeks, trailing behind Yannick Noah and his 358 weeks, and reached 5th.i the best ranking in the world in 2012, where Monfils and Simon only climbed to 6thi range and Gasquet that in 7i rank. The comparison is also favorable, and by far, at the level of the list of awards: Jo-Wilfried Tsonga has won 18 titles, including 2 Masters 1000 (Paris-Bercy in 2008 and Canada in 2014). In history, only Yannick Noah has done better with 23 titles, including a Grand Slam. Richard Gasquet has won 15 titles, Gilles Simon 14 and Gaël Monfils 11. None has been crowned in the Masters 1000.

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga also had the best results in the Grand Slam: in addition to losing in 2008, he reached the semifinals in Australia in 2010, then reached the semifinals twice at Wimbledon (2011 and 2012) and twice the Roland-Garros semifinals (2013 and 2015). He is the only Frenchman invited to the quarterfinals of every Grand Slam tournament.

“I have won almost everything except the Grand Slam. But this search will have been the way and the means to overcome myself to live incredible things. Obviously, I would have been proud to hold the trophy in front of the French. The family.

He will leave his mark on French tennis

Against the Big Four, it was still Tsonga who came out on top among French tennis players. With 18 wins in 53 games, a winning percentage of almost 34% (6 against Federer, 6 against Djokovic, 4 against Nadal and 1 against Murray), he has nothing to be ashamed of. Between the two, Gasquet-Monfils-Simon only got 21 in 145 matches, or 14% of victories (8 for Monfils, 7 for Gasquet, 6 for Simon).

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga also lived the peaks under the tricolor flag. In 2012 he became Olympic doubles runner-up with Michael Llodra. And in 2017 he was part of the team coached by Yannick Noah that won the Davis Cup against Belgium, after a 16-year shortage for the French clan. Two months before the end of her life as a tennis player, “I” takes stock of everything she has achieved.

“I am very proud to be able to say that I count on French tennis, (…) the feeling of having marked, in some way, my generation in the sense that I was one of those players who, however, were humans “. “One of the things I’m most proud of is that for fifteen or twenty years I’ve been loved by the public without deviating from my behavior,” he told L’Équipe. For me, this is the very foundation of what my parents wanted me to leave behind. me “.

On Twitter, the Tennis Professionals Association (ATP) takes its hat off to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga: “What a trip! Thanks for everything, Jo!” The French Tennis Federation, this, “puts an appointment at Roland-Garros to vibrate one last time all together.” And Gilles Simon, responded to the announcement of the forthcoming withdrawal of his partner with two sibilant words: “I’m selling friend.” A way of announcing that, for him too, retirement is near. The era of musketeers is coming to an end.

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