Jo-Wilfried Tsonga has been one of the most explosive players in the last 10 years and also one of the few who has managed to deliver his best tennis against the world's leading players on the biggest tournaments, scoring no less than 18 wins against Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray, most of those at Majors and Masters 1000 series! Tsonga is capable of playing high-quality tennis on every surface and also at both indoor and outdoor tournaments, winning no less than 11 ATP titles under the roof as the fourth most successful active player after Federer, Murray and Djokovic.
Jo has played in 28 ATP finals so far, including battles for Grand Slam and Masters 1000 crowns, and he has been one of the most consistent players in the last decade, staying in the Top 30 for 10 years and becoming world number 5 in 2012.
Back in 2009, Tsonga had won three ATP titles and he failed to repeat that until 2017 when he lifted four (Rotterdam, Marseille, Lyon and Antwerp) for his career-best season, looking for more of the same in 2018 as well. In the past, the Frenchman had struggled with knee injuries (among many others since the beginning of his career in 2004) and it hit him back at the start of this season, having to retire in the semi-final of Montpellier in the second week of February and being sidelined for seven months due to a problem with his left knee! In the next month and a half, Jo did his best to recover and get back on the court but he had to undergo a small intervention on April 3, hoping to make a return in the second part of May for the end of the clay season.
Unfortunately, he had to skip Lyon and Roland Garros and we haven't' seen him on the grass as well, working hard on his comeback before announcing he is skipping the US Open due to knee troubles just like in 2010 and 2013.
After more than seven months, Jo has finally made his comeback in Metz on Tuesday, losing to the defending champion Peter Gojowczyk 6-7 6-3 6-4 in an hour and 45 minutes despite showing a very solid tennis. The Frenchman played well on both the first and second serve and he should be happy with the way he performed after such a long break.
Of course, his intensity did drop after the opening set and Gojowczyk found the way to tame his first serve in order to break him once in sets two and three, saving all break points he faced to end Jo's run in the opening round.
The first set lasted for just 40 minutes and it was a rapid fire on both sides, with short points and only three deuces and one break point that Jo had to save in the third game. Gojowczyk earned that break point after a huge forehand error from Tsonga but the Frenchman saved it with an ace, finding the range in the rest of the set to set up a tie break in no time at all.
There, Jo scored the only mini-break at 5-4 and he closed the set with a volley winner in the 12th point for the best possible return after such a long break. The German saved a break point in the third game of the second set and this proved to be the crucial moment of the match, as it would have been very tough for him to come back from a set and a break down.
He served well in the rest of the set and Tsonga failed to follow that pace, losing serve in game six to find himself 4-2 down after a forehand forced error. Gojowczyk held at 15 in game nine to close the set 6-3 in less than 30 minutes and the match was wide open once again.
Jo wasted two break points in the fourth game of the decider and he had to dig deep on his serve at 3-3 when he repelled three break points with winners to stay on the positive side of the scoreboard. Nonetheless, Peter found the way to break him the next time around after a deep return and he sealed the deal on own serve in game 10 with a volley winner to reach the second round.
Tsonga will play Orleans Challenger next week and this will be his first tournament below the ATP level since Surbiton in 2007 (he had won four out of five Challengers between April and June that year), hoping to win some matches and regain the form before the rest of the season.
If he stays healthy, Jo-Wilfried will get where he belongs by the beginning of 2019 and he for sure looks eager to compete on the Tour for a few more years. ALSO READ: Rafael Nadal withdraws from Beijing and Shanghai in order to rest his knee