"For the moment, I'm fine, I'm crossing my fingers," Jo-Wilfried Tsonga had told the magazine France Blue last year when starting his recuperation from knee surgery. The Frenchman's tennis world had crumbled when he had to withdraw from the Montpellier Open semi-final last February for surgery to repair a torn meniscus.
Yet injury doesn't have to be a permanent disability to stopping one's career; and for Tsonga it wasn't. As fans sat back with cool refrehments at the Moselle Open today, they were looking at a new and improved Tsonga with no sign of a previous damaged knee in sight.
The first round at Moselle went great with Tsonga's meet up with Pablo Andujar of Spain. The Frenchman started off slow and getting his rhythm was difficult. The Spaniard had all the answers and scored big to win the set 6-3.
It wasn't long before Jo-Willy came back with strong blasting rallies and putting away volleys as fast as possible. He only allowed Andujar one game in the second set 6-1. Tsonga's stamina and rhythm were on point as he blasted a total of 10 aces and won over 90 points to win the decider set 6-2, and the match.
He moved to round 2, a difficult one to win throughout the year, but this time was not the case. It was a battle of two Frenchman with Pierre-Hugues Herbert feeling most of the pangs of losing to an opponent he's never defeated or won a set off before.
Herbert had tried back in February at the Open Sud de France but Tsonga prevailed in the Final with the trophy. Two years before it was the same tournament and same results only in the round of 16. In 2016 the same thing again, so this left Herbert not feeling so optimistic coming into this match.
Three times wasn't the charm and for the lean Frenchman the fourth time wasn't either. He was dealing with stinging shots and clever strategies. Herbert had pungent strokes too and Tsonga did feel that his opponent had the skills but Herbert most times came up short winded and short on points.
Tsonga won the first set 6-3 and as the match went on, so did his confidence and diversity of tactics. He won the match over Herbert again 6-3, 6-4 and moved gracefully onto the quarterfinals. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga walked off the court self-assured after the win over Herbert.
He was living the philosophy of last year in preparing for being successful as he is now. "..I would like to find my rhythm because the most difficult thing about tennis is not to win a game, but to get to win several in a row..."
Tsonga had explained his game plan last year. He has came to living the plan and in playing the Cassis Open Provence Challenger his last tournament, won the title. Tsonga's entering the quarters at Moselle he's doing well at being "able to resume the course of my career", he'd said rather gingerly back then.
He certainly looks to be on the right road with possibly another title in his resume. If he keeps his tactics on point and focus in check he will certainly be beaming at the podium with a new title and trophy to show.