If you are a Jo-Wilfried Tsonga fan you have to like what you are seeing from your guy. Earlier today in Bangkok, Tsonga avenged an Australian Open final loss to Novak Djokovic, defeating the Serb 7-6(4), 6-4 to claim his first career ATP title at the Thailand Open.
I may have initially overlooked Tsonga in terms of future potential among the young guns coming up. I thought he was a bit too streaky of a player to really become a true, consistent force over a full tennis season, but he’s starting to change my mind. What I like and what impresses me most right now about JW is his ability to overcome adversity.
The kid (he’s 23) had a real tough setback with his knee in May (this to go along with previous back, ab and shoulder injuries that he’s already endured) just ahead of his biggest tournament of the year – the French Open – but he didn’t get down, didn’t get upset and didn’t lose focus. Instead he did what he had to do to get back on the tour.
There were signs of things to come from JW at the US Open where he advanced to the third round, beating Carlos Moya before losing to Tommy Robredo. Not bad for a kid playing in his tournament since Casablanca in mid-May.
And now JW takes his comeback one step further, losing only one set en route to his first tour title, defeating Jurgen Melzer, my man Gael Monfils and then today, Djokovic today. (Novak, who bloodied his eyebrow with his racquet, is titleless since May.)
I remember first seeing JW a few years ago against Roddick at the Australian Open. The kid played Andy really tough, but lost in the end. He had lots of raw power, lots of flare but he was struggling with his weight, fitness and even injuries. But credit to JW, he stuck with it, worked hard and look how nicely it’s paying off. I hope he keeps it going.
Few question Andy Roddick’s work ethic or desire to win. Roddick could have easily packed it in and gone back home to Texas following the US Davis Cup loss to Spain last weekend, but Andy went ahead with his commitment to the Beijing “Challenger” event and he walked away with title No. 26 after defeating Dudi Sela (yes, that Dudi Sela) in the finale 6-4, 6-7, 6-3 today.
But this tournament triumph wasn’t exactly among easiest despite enjoying one of the cushiest draws ever seen in a $500,000+ tournament (Roddick only played one player in the Top 90 – Ferrero all week). Roddick was pushed to three sets in his last three matches in wins over Ferrero, Bjorn Phau and Sela. Granted the competition wasn’t top notch and it wasn’t for Beijing Olympic gold, but I doubt Andy’s losing any sleep over it. He’ll take it.
Roddick now heads to Tokyo to join fellow Top 20ers Tsonga, David Ferrer, Juan Martin Del Potro, Fernando Gonzalez and Richard Gasquet as the guys continue their final push toward Shanghai.
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