Jo-Wilfried Tsonga put an end to his career on Tuesday afternoon after an emotional match at Roland-Garros.
He went out through the largest door, that of the central court of Roland-Garros. After a long game of almost 4 hours, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga said goodbye to tennis. A few weeks ago, the former fifth player in the world announced on video his intention to end his career. And it was in France, at home, that “I” said goodbye to his audience, offering a match in the image of his incredible career: extravagant, explosive, but also undermined by a whimsical physique. It had all started well for the French against the Norwegian Casper Ruud, 8th global. Motivated by a heated audience, Tsonga outscored his rival in the first set, chaining exceptional shots to pale the player he was in the past. Driven by the incredible atmosphere of the Philippe-Chatrier court, the trumpets, the applause and the Marseilles sung aloud, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, in 267th place in the world, began to dream. Could he, the 37-year-old player, beat his 23-year-old rival?
With the audience, this Tuesday, he was one of them. Each of his points, each of Casper Ruud’s fouls, each of the referee’s decisions made chills down the back of the spectators at the Porte d’Auteuil. Whistle on the edge of fair play sometimes? Certainly. But the most important thing was elsewhere and Casper Ruud did not resist. The youngster, who was only 9 years old when Tsonga reached the final of the Australian Open, managed to forget the public outcry and stay focused. So much so that he grabbed the next two sets, before starting the fourth, with full confidence. The Frenchman, however, had every intention of keeping the suspense going and offering himself a few more minutes on this dirt track that he loves so much, hoping for a fifth set. The feat was within reach. But when he had just offered himself the game of his opponent, his physique, the same one that had made him suffer so much in the past, he unfortunately came to call him to order. Embarrassed, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga had to call the physiotherapist. Something to repeat this famous question I was talking about in the video announcing his retirement: “There’s a time in the day when I say to myself” What am I doing, why am I hurting like this, is there still a reason? why should I make all this effort? “
After a brief medical break, the case was finally closed for the Norwegian. And as the last few games went on, the excitement won over the Frenchman as the crowd began chanting “Thank you! Thank you! “In each of his last points, fatigue was visible on his face. In 3 hours 49, Casper Ruud ended up winning (7-6, 6-7, 2-6, 6-7). The result As soon as the game was over, the crowd rose to their feet, applauding Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who was unable to hold back his tears after a few minutes. last time the Parisian clay.
“I don’t want to talk about today’s match, I want to talk about Jo,” said the Norwegian after the match. “It’s hard and sad for all the players you stop. Thanks for all the memories. You were an inspiration, “he said.” In the past, you beat Rafa (Nadal, ed.) Who was my favorite player, “he added humorously. I should be a player. It was an honor to see you grow. ” The tribute did not stop there. His former coaches, his parents, his brothers and sisters, his friends, his tennis teammates, from Gasquet to Monfils, took to the court to applaud this musketeer who wrote one of the best pages. of French sport.
Surrounded by his children and his wife, the 2017 Davis Cup winner watched with excitement as his opponents hailed his career yesterday. In the video, Novak Djokovic paid tribute to a “super boy.” “It’s a great loss for tennis. You have contributed a lot to our sport thanks to your charisma and your personality. “I wish you all the best,” he said.
Speaking into the microphone, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga said he had “prepared a text, because he didn’t know if he would be able to say a word.” After thanking “the people who allowed Jo, the boy I dreamed of, to become a tennis player,” he acknowledged that he was “lucky enough to have the support of wonderful parents.” From his friends to his coaches who “supported him even in my greatest nonsense,” “I” has not forgotten anyone, not even the media who sometimes made him the life so hard. “I was not prepared to deal with all this. I did not live well in the media game,” he said, ironically referring to the attacks on the famous “French mentality.” But by his own admission, critics helped him grow. “I tried to do the best I could,” he said. Mister tennis “.” The tennis adventure is great. I like you. ” Me, tennis says thank you, and have a nice trip.