“Breakdown, stage, injury”, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga’s successful farewell to tennis

We will no longer see Jo-Wilfried Tsonga’s thumb dancing on a tennis court. Improvised in its beginnings and continued because the public had adopted it, the celebration of the French player after a victory will no longer return to the courts.

At the age of 37, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga played on Tuesday, May 24, the last match of his rich career. Defeated after a good battle against the Norwegian Casper Ruud in the first round of Roland-Garros (7-6). [8-6]6-7 [7-4]2-6, 6-7 [0-7]), Le Manceau retires. A match as a summary of his immense career, alternating moments of grace, grimaces and an injury at the end of the match that has prevented him from defending himself until the end.

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“There was everything, desire, stage, injury, a very solid opponent, because that’s also part of my career.” Tsonga summed up at a press conference.

For the beginning of 705i and perhaps the final match of the professional life of Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, in the early afternoon, the audience missed the call. The central track was sparse, despite the presence of a small “kop” of supporters who came with drums to accompany their favorite.

I was reminded of the words of Yannick Noah, coming out of the semifinals of Le Manceau at Roland-Garros in 2013, warmly regretting that the public had “drop me”. Then he entered a half-empty Philippe-Chatrier court, Tsonga had been “deprived of this energy” and had “played his first set on neutral ground”, judged the last French winner Porte d’Auteuil. In view of the bustling atmosphere of the football stadium reserved for Benoît Paire on Monday at the Simonne-Mathieu stadium, these words remain relevant.

However, although he was excited about what he hoped would be his last appearance on clay at Roland-Garros – and his last entry on a court as a professional tennis player – Jo-Wilfried Tsonga attacked the meeting without questions. As is often the case in Porte d’Auteuil, which he acknowledges “Don’t be a clay specialist” has found resources to shine in it anyway.

“I went to the end”

It’s not a surface where I’ve had the best results., admitted the player before the tournament. But Jo-Wilfried Tsonga has always been a true Roland-Garros player. “It was a special tournament for mehe emphasized on Friday – speaking in the past – evoking the conditions, the specificity of Parisian clay and its relationship with the public. Everything I did was very different from what I experienced in other tournaments. I always arrived very confident here, even though I hadn’t necessarily won many games in the previous weeks. »

Would he be able to repeat the experience again? Defeated in the first round of most of the -rare- tournaments he has played this year and immediately facing the tough Casper Ruud, number 8 in the world and the only Norwegian clay specialist, Tsonga was aware of the magnitude of the task in complete. .

Driven by his efficiency in the service, the Frenchman attacked the match with serenity facing a Norwegian who seemed to lack inspiration. In a Central gradually recovering its atmosphere, the Frenchman won the first round after a perfectly dominated decisive match.

Squeezing his fist, “I” could smile, he who especially wanted not to miss his farewell. If he no longer has the mobility of his 22 years – when he broke at the highest level, with a final at the Australian Open in 2008 – the Frenchman secured his shots, made few mistakes and made his opponent who would have to go for victory.

If it was missing “very sure”after two years complicated by injuries, Tsonga loved before the tournament that he would be “When [il] It’s heard[ait] better physically “. If the Frenchman did not give up in the second set, only losing in the decisive match, the end of the match turned in Ruud’s advantage. Caught by the passing of time, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga was forced to give up his arms and lost after more than three and a half hours of play. Not without having fought to the last point of the fourth set, grimacing after an injury. preventing him from serving in the decisive match. A dislike for the player, rewarded a few seconds earlier by the crowd with a thunderbolt Marsellesa.

“It’s one of the best environments I’ve ever had in my career. I can’t ask for better, he savored the French. This is what I will miss. I wanted to finish on the track giving my best and I think I went there to the end. Anyway, at least I didn’t go down without explaining myself first. »

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“When we play tennis, we lose every week”

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, then, will never have won Roland-Garros. Twice Porte d’Auteuil semi-finalist, the Frenchman will not have managed to play any of the four Grand Slam trophies. With 18 titles to his credit on the circuit (only Yannick Noah has done better among French players, with 23), including two Masters 1000 – the highest tournaments, except for the Grand Slam – Tsonga has nothing to do . be ashamed of his career.

He met a few days before this final round of applause, the player said he did not have it “no remorse”. The one who had struggled to reach the highest level, who had had to overcome serious injuries, had done so “driven [sa] career com [il] he heard it[t] »in a discipline where elected officials are infrequent.

“Being a tennis player is basically being a loser, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga insisted in an interview with Agence France-Presse after announcing his forthcoming retirement in early April. When we play tennis, we lose every week. » Even Roger Federer, considered by many observers to be the best player in the history of the yellow ball, “He has lost more weeks than he has gained”completed the French.

Tournament after tournament, week after week, a tennis player has to go back to work. “When you’ve lost, they’ll say, ‘You lost, okay?’ Get up, there’s another game. It starts again tomorrow. And be prepared, for you will lose again. You will lose today, tomorrow, the day after tomorrow … ”This is our job, this is tennis. It’s about agreeing to lose and saying, “Tomorrow, I’ll win again.” »

Tomorrow, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga can prepare his seedlings to go fishing. But the best French player of the last twenty years will not return to training for the next tournament. His career ended on Tuesday at the Roland-Garros clay courts, as he wanted. If he did not participate in a final thumb dance, the player would kiss on the court.

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