Eliminated from Roland-Garros, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga says goodbye to tennis

He hadn’t come to win, but to say “goodbye”. In the forms, on this central court of Roland-Garros which he made one of the privileged sites of his career. At 37, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga is only a shadow of the semi-finalist he was twice in the Parisian Grand Slam, in 2013 and 2015. Logically defeated in four sets by the eighth player in the world, the Norwegian Casper Ruud, as soon as he entered the tournament, Tuesday May 24 (7-6, 6-7, 2-6, 6-7). But a shadow is already not nothing, when the knee and the back had been begging for mercy for several years, and had encouraged him to leave his rackets in the locker room for good at the start of the covid-19 epidemic.

“Djo” treated them to return, out of respect – one would be tempted to think – for the French public, to whom he owed one last dance. Le Manceau even offered to vibrate and give voice to the rhythm of the first two sets, each extended until the decisive game. Tsonga made Tsonga there. By relying on his size (1.88 m, 93 kg) to catapult his first service balls then dictate the exchange from the baseline, without forbidding himself, at times, to caress the ball in the net. And frustrate the spectator by his missed opportunities at the end of the fourth round, before a recalcitrant shoulder definitively bury his chances.

2nd prize list in French tennis

For almost four hours, sweet words never stopped raining from the stands, especially who came to greet the der of the most regular French player since Yannick Noah. 18 titles at the head of which two Masters 1000, the most prestigious tournaments behind the four Grand Slams of the season, a Davis Cup raised in 2017 with France and a silver medal gleaned in doubles at the London Olympics in 2012, either the second greatest prize list of French tennis behind Noah, the last Blue winner of Roland-Garros.

But if the tricolor flourished for 260 weeks in the world top 10, until culminating in fifth place, he never knew how to take advantage of the few remnants left by the Federer-Nadal-Djokovic trio in Major tournament, only touched in final in Melbourne in 2008 or in the semi-finals of Wimbledon ten years ago. “This match is a reflection of his career: it shows that he is still at the level of a top 10 player despite having had a bad season so far, but he could also have done better. And on arrival, he always falls against better than him”, blows Christophe, a 53-year-old computer scientist and amateur of the yellow ball in his spare time.

Tribute on center court

With a friend, he stayed at the stadium to watch the ceremony in honor of Tsonga. Casper Ruud, executioner of the French, is the first at the microphone of the organizers. “I know it’s hard for you to quit, but it’s also hard for us not to have you on the circuit anymore. You have been an inspiration to me and many young players.” drops the qualified for the 2nd round. In a speech held back by a few tears – already withheld from the broadcast of video praise from Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, or the arrival on the court of his family, his children, his playing partners or even his first coach – , Jo-Wilfried Tsonga ensures that the ” resilience “ guided “every step of [sa] career “started almost twenty years ago.

After 705 professional games, “my family will become my priority again”, he concludes, brandishing a trophy designed for the occasion by the French tennis federation, alongside Gilles Simon, his ” pal “ from the Poitiers training center, a member with him of the generation of the “four musketeers” (with Richard Gasquet and Gaël Monfils), who also announced his withdrawal from the field at the end of the season.

→ VIDEO. Who was Roland Garros?


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