A Healthy Jo-Wilfried Tsonga is Back!

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
By Ajay Singh, October 11th, 2008
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga

Plagued by injuries to his back for months, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, the “Mohammad Ali’ of tennis, is back in form and raring to go. A fit and healthy Tsonga spells trouble for all his opponents, as he is quite capable of beating anybody on any given day. The runner-up in the 2008 Australian Open just had his revenge on Novak Djokovic in the final of the Thailand Open played in Bangkok yesterday. He won his first ATP title in a stunning 7-6, 6-4 victory over Novak just 3 months after having knee surgery. After winning his first title he said, “I feel great, its got to be one of the best moments of my life. I played unbelievable tennis against Novak, and I fulfilled my dream. I’m so happy.”

There has never been any doubt in tennis circles that Tsonga would one day play up to his potential. He was an outstanding Junior player, reaching the Number 2 spot in the world rankings in 2003. A player whose development was somewhat slower than other juniors, Jo-Willy was growing physically into the intimidating young man he is now who faces his opponents across the net, and sends a message that says ‘try to get the ball past me’. He is powerful, very fast even for his size, and serves as hard and as accurate as any player on the tour. His record against players ranked in the top ten is 5-6, demonstrating his ability to play at a very high level when he is feeling good. On his way to winning the title in Bangkok he beat fellow countryman and good friend Gael Monfils 6-0, 6-3 in a very one sided match. When asked about the match Monfils answered, “when ‘Ali’ plays like he played today, nobody can beat him.”

He is known as Ali because of his striking resemblance to the great boxer, and maybe because he flies like a butterfly but stings like a bee. He was born in April 1985, and is currently ranked Number 20. His Father was a professional handball player, but now teaches Chemistry. He has a younger brother Enzo, who is playing basketball, and an elder sister Sarah. They live in Le Mans France where both parents teach.

Reaching the final of the 2008 Australian Open was the highlight of his career, he beat Nadal on the way, and he says he really didn’t expect to win against Djokovic in his first Grand Slam appearance. “I was so nervous I’m surprised I played as well as I did,” he grinned. If he makes it to the 2009 Australian Open final he won’t be as nervous, and now he has an ATP title to his credit his confidence has had a boost that makes this ‘friendly giant’ a realistic threat to all the top players. He is a favourite of the crowd for his captivating smile and his exuberance. Jo-Willy is the kind of player that appeals to the blue collar fan, the kind of player that you would like to sit down and have a beer with, and talk about anything in the world except tennis.


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