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Jo-Wilfried Tsonga ended his tennis career with an emotional farewell from the French Open | French Open 2022


For a brief, golden moment at Court Philip Chateau, in front of a stormy crowd that suffered through every point, as if their careers stood in line, the scene was reminiscent of the old days. Joe Wilfried Tsonga flew through the air, as always, breaking his front arms, flew to the net. More than once he brought his iconic backhand with one hand, just for fun. He punched himself in the chest and rallied the crowd. He didn’t even need it: they’ve been eating from the palm of their hand for 13 years.

Inevitably, this did not continue. After winning a set by one of the best players on the world courts and then roaring to death, the reality slowly caught up with Tsong. Casper Ruud, the eighth sown, gradually destroyed it, and eventually his body was removed. Tsonga with tears lost 6-7 (6), 7-6 (4), 6-2, 7-6 (0), this is one of the wonderful, most enjoyable tennis careers of the last 15 years came to an end.

Shortly before that, Tsong’s announcement of retirement French Open was no surprise. He has received numerous injuries in the last years of his life, as a result his movement and his athleticism disintegrated. He arrived in Paris in 297th place with a record of 4-17 from early 2021. Yet on the court, which inspired him throughout his career, for a short period he shone. Tsonga was bold and dynamic in the starting set, ahead of him on the tie-break. After Rudd joined the match and slowly began to back away, Tsonga found a second breath in the fourth set, making a flawless reverse game at 5-5 in the fourth set to make a break.

Just as Tsonga seemed to be heading for a dramatic fifth set, however, he began to struggle with a shoulder injury as he served the set. He could not properly serve or strike forehands, and when things fell apart, he hit his own head and began to cry. No longer able to compete, Tsonga has lost 11 of the last 12 points of his career. Tsonga hugged Ruud at the net, then he dropped the racket, returned to the center of Philip Shatrie’s court, and kissed the thick clay one last time.

Then a large group of some of the most important people on Tsonga’s path came on the court, from his parents and wife to his charismatic group of contemporaries: Gael Monfis, Gilles Simon, Richard Gasquet.

Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray handed him video clips, and then Tsonga concluded the emotional ceremony with a long candid speech.

Tsonga puts a symbolic kiss on the clay. Photo: Shi Tang / Getty Images

“I wanted to show resilience from a young age,” he said. “I’m going to stay the way I am and stay active, and I’m doing it as much as I can. I’ve had great days and some of them haven’t been that good. I am a player of France, I am a Swiss player, I am a player from Kanga, I am a black player, I am a white player.

“Now I stand before you without a racket along with my best friends for 30 years. Thanks, Nura for being with me. My family is now my priority. Thank you tennis. I love you. “

Tsonga is leaving, building a great career that is defined by his athleticism, his subtle touch to the net and his instincts. A Grand Slam finalist, a Masters 1000 champion and a longtime player in the top 10 at his best, he is the most successful French tennis player since the time of Janica Noah. He had a severe misfortune to reach the peak at the same time as Federer, Djokovic, Nadal and Murray.

Tsonga later explained in detail the joy of tennis and what he will miss most in retirement. “In real life, it’s hard to be tense at times,” he said. “You don’t want to shock, you don’t want to be too rude, you don’t want to offend anyone. You always try to behave as I say, be kind, friendly. But on the court you can express your fever. You can express everything about yourself. And sometimes – how can I say it in English? – release. Yes, liberation. “

Along with his countryman and close friend Monfils, he has long been one of the few black male players to have fought at the very top of his sport. Along with his charisma this made him an idol for many, such as Felix Aje-Alyasim, who was present at the stadium when Tsonga was fighting.

Tsonga’s career is not over yet. The last time he will play in a doubles match with Gaskie in Paris, who himself addressed Tsonga: “I am part of his story, he is part of mine,” said Gasquet.

Earlier in the day, second-seeded Daniil Medvedev won his first match since hernia surgery in April, reaching the second round with a 6-2, 6-2, 6-2 victory over Facundo Bagnis of Argentina.


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