Tag Archives: Jo-Wilfried Tsonga

Davis Cup. Could this be a Swiss master stroke.

20 Nov

Roger rips BHand

Roger Federer in full flight, ripping into a backhand earlier in 2014.

It will be interesting to see if the so-called spat between team mates (and good      mates) Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka has any implication for team harmony   in the Davis Cup final which starts tomorrow in Lille, France.

The tie will be played indoors on clay – a choice made by the home French team –  who probably feel they need to slow things down to negate the Stanimal and  Roger’s weapons. Should be an amazing atmosphere – a 27,000 seat indoor  stadium full of parochial French, with the 4th ranked Swiss looking to topple the  2nd ranked French team.

122 nations contested the Davis Cup in 2014, and now we are down to the final two. This will be a great clash. The French have a long and proud history in Davis Cup. Equal 3rd on the all-time tally with 9 victories, whilst Switzerland are yet to win the Davis Cup. It is one of Roger Federer’s stated remaining goals in the game. The Swiss did make the final back in 1992 – but ran into something of a USA Dream Team – Andre Agassi, Pete Sampras, Jim Courier and John McEnroe!

The French will probably go with Tsonga and Monfils in the singles, but could surprise with either Gasquet or Simon – nice to have those selection issues.. The Swiss are a little more straight forward – Federer and Wawrinka – and hang their hopes on gaining 3 singles wins.



Rafa rules. OK

8 Jun

Rafael Nadal whizzed through his quarter final against Stanislas Wawrinka. The Spanish 3rd seed took the win in 3 sets, 6-2, 6-3, 6-1.

Rafa was stretched to the limit, but rules Roland Garros

Novak Djokovic almost did what he said he would do, claim victory over Raphael Nadal in the French Open semi final. It took Rafa all of his renowned athleticism, fighting qualities and mental toughness to hold off the belligerent Serb over 4 hours and 37 minutes of roller coaster tennis. The result a 9/7 in the 5th set win in a match that just adds to the back catalogue of classic Nadal / Djokovic  matches. In the other men’s semi David Ferrer, the Spanish ball machine, set up an all Spanish final by thrashing local favourite Jo-Wi Tsonga in straight sets.

While Djokovic licks his wounds and counts an 0-5 win loss record at the French against Rafa, he also rued the lack of support from tournament staff when he asked for the court to be watered as “it was too slippery, it was difficult to change direction, I don’t understand, it was wrong that they didn’t water” – perhaps in a rivalry where it is the smallest of details that can give one player the edge this excuse says more about Djokovic’s state of mind.

As for Rafa – his post match comments leave no doubt, excuses do not enter his thought process. “I lost a match like this in Australia. This one today was for me”. And in a telling philosophical moment he confided to the gathered media – “You need to love the game and appreciate every moment. I have learned to enjoy suffering in these matches”. Uncle Tony would be proud.


PS follow the link to The PRO’s blog on the importance of learning to “suffer” on clay.


French Open semis. The pointy end.

6 Jun

Muscle man

Rafa rips a forehand

With apologies to Roger Federer the men’s semi finals at this year’s French Open line up as most would have expected. And what a tantalising pair of matches these semis will be. The bottom half of the draw pits the bulldog, Spanish ball machine David Ferrer, against raging crowd favourite, the French entertainer – Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. And while this will be a great match, it will serve as the curtain raiser to the main event.

In the most anticipated match of the tournament and a replay of last year’s final, world #1 Novak Djokovic takes on 7 time French Open champion, and current #4 Raphael Nadal. Both are in blistering form. Nadal is coming good, as he said in his courtside interview after demolishing Stan Wawrinka “very, very good” at just the right time.

After a long layoff with serious doubts being raised about the durability of Rafa’s knees, the King of Clay is well and truly looking to hold onto that crown. It is a stat that we all know, but almost incomprehensible to think about – Rafa has lost only once at Roland Garros – that’s 57 wins, one loss. He owns the place and must feel bullet proof everytime he steps onto Philippe Chatrier Court.

Nadal and Djokovic have met 34 times with Rafa holding a 19-15 edge and a 12-3 clay court edge – while this seems a solid case for Rafa – recent form is in Novak’s favour. Of the past 16 matches Novak has an 11-5 edge and more importantly they have split the last 6 clay court matches 3-3, and it was Djokovic who won their last meeting on the surface 1 month ago in straight sets.

Djokovic loves the big occasion – and there will be none bigger. He has beaten Rafa in every slam but this one (even if it took 5 hours and 53 minutes to do it in the epic 2012 Australian Open final) and hasn’t shied away from the fact that this is the tournament he has set himself for this year. With all of that on board, The PRO is making a bold prediction and going with the head – and not the heart – Djokovic in 4 sets.

The PRO.

Fed Express sent packing

5 Jun

One of a multitude of winners that Jo-Wilfried Tsonga fired down in his straight-sets win over 2009 champion Roger Federer on Tuesday.Not this year...No hard feelingsPacking up

A rampant Jo-Wilfried Tsonga sent Swiss superstar Roger Federer on his way at the French Open

With the crowd chanting Jo-Wee Jo-Wee, French #1 and tournament 6th seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga moved one step closer to a French fairy tale with a demolition job on none other than 17 time Grand Slam champion, Roger Federer. It was one way traffic as Tsonga served with great accuracy, moved like the athlete he is, and generally controlled the tempo of the match against his good friend.

Tsonga was good today – so good in fact that Federer, as always generous in praise for his opponent following a defeat said that “Jo-Willy played great today – he was better than me in all areas of play”.  Tsonga’s Aussie coach Roger Rasheed could not be happier with the passion and intensity his charge is showing and there is a growing sense that Rasheed may just get Tsonga to realise his Grand Slam dream.

The win puts Tsonga through to the semi finals for the first time at Roland Garros where he will meet Spanish ball machine David Ferrer.


No surprises – just “if only’s” and “should haves.”

6 Jun

Tsonga 2012 French Open Jo-Wi…. grr if only I put Novak away.

Wow – the mens draw at this year’s French Open has been chock a block full of exhilarating tennis – and for the average punter all seems to be just as you would expect. No surprises. The semis already confirmed will be another instalment of the Roger Federer versus Novak Djokovic rivalry. Could it be another epic a-la 2011 Roland Garros semi – the last Grand slam match Novak lost? – or the 2011 US Open semi – where Roger had 4 match points only to lose the match.

And also in the bottom half of the draw we are heading for a Rafael Nadal v Andy Murray / or David Ferrer semi. Also very predicatable – and in fact this half of the draw has been more or less untouched by surprises. Raphael Nadal plays compatriot Nicolas Almagro and Andy Murray takes on David Ferrer in the remaining 1/4 finals tonight. The only “wow” on this side of the draw has been the total eclipse of everyone in his path by Rafa. Rafa the clay court King has dropped only 19 games for the tournament – the best since Guillermo Vilas lost only 14 games in a blistering run to the 1977 quarter finals.

But what about the “if only – and the perhaps should haves”.

Just ask Jo-Wilfried Tsonga – 2 sets to one up against Novak Djokovic, and playing the match of his life. You need to remember Tsonga and Djokovic have a very legitimate rivalry in the true sense of the word. Going in to this match they were 5 wins apiece in their head to head record. Tsonga was playing near faultless tennis and racked up 4 match points in the 4th set. But –  somehow, Novak’s iron will again prevailed – he is so mentally strong and seems to be willing himself to the “Serbian Slam”.

Jo-Wi is left to sit and rue the opportunity that has passed him by. He is not alone. Andreas Seppi had Djokovic on the ropes and looking for the white towel in their 4th round encounter. Seppi led a hapless Nole 2 sets to love but could not strike the fatal blow. He went down in 5. Novak’s only comment – “I want to forget about that match and move on”.

Roger Federer too, has also had an unusually rocky road to the semi. He has been dropping sets to qualifiers, lucky losers and journeyman. And then he was staring at a 1/4 final defeat, 2 sets to love down at the hands of Juan Martin Del Potro – but Delpo ran out of petrol – and as the wise old sage Roger said in his presser – “this is a marathon, not a sprint”. We are at the “pointy” end. No more time for if’s, but’s and maybes, and you definitely don’t want to have a “I should have”. I’m sticking with Rafa – nothing seems to be standing in his way… but does Novak know that.


Kei Nishikori – now he really is BIG in Japan.

25 Jan



Japan’s young gun Kei Nishikori was nicknamed “Project 45” from the day he arrived at Nick Bollettieri’s tennis academy in Florida at the age of 14. He spoke little english, Athletic but shy and very homesick in the early years. Why Project 45? The previous highest ranked Japanese male player on the ATP tour was Shuzo Matsuoka, who peaked at #46 in 1992 – hence the Project 45 tag.

Nishikori has gone well past this goal and will break into the the top 20 after his phenomenal 1/4 final run at the 2012 Australian Open where he accounted for world #6, France’s Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. Nishikori began playing at the age of 5 and quickly developed into a really good junior player. He is the type of player that can really excite a crowd with his forehand and footspeed defying his stature.

Nishikori is definitely “BIG in Japan”. He is followed everywhere by an admiring WowWow crew.(Japanese TV) Wowwow have been great for the game in Japan too, they have a quirky way of covering the event. Wowwow media executives hand delivered “Go Nishikori – Wowwow” sushi packs to all the foreign media with a bow and a smile. Watch out for this guy – he is the type of player to inspire a nation.

The PRO.

The French quarter

22 Jan

Many coaches – and I am one, will tell you producing tennis players is a numbers game. You need facilities that are adequate, funding where possible, sports science services that can compete with other tennis nations, highly qualified and motivated tennis coaches, supportive and patient parents, and definitely a little luck. But most of all you need a DEEP talent pool, many players pushing each other along, each striving to be better – that is the key to a successful “program”.

Well what has been going on in France. No fewer than 14 players in the main draw of this year’s Australian Open men’s singles! That in itself is a “benchmark” to be proud of, even if they all lost in the opening round. But with talent of the quality of Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Richard Gasquet, Gilles Simon, Gael Monfils, Nicolas Mahut, Michael Llodra and Julien Benneteau just to name half of them, there certainly will be many still in the draw deep into the tournament. I would be looking ahead to a Tsonga – Andy Murray 1/4 final, and would not be at all surprised if Richard Gasquet – who has been flying under the radar  does not also push through to a quarter final berth.

Viva la France.

The PRO.