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ARE JO-WILFRIED TSONGA'S GIANT-KILLING DAYS OVER?


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In an era dominated by four men, major upsets in tennis have been fairly hard to come by in recent years. While there are signs that this is beginning to change, one man who used to be as likely a source as any of a "Big Four" casualty is fading from the minds of those who like a good shake-up. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga has slipped down the rankings since retiring in the second round of Wimbledon last year, and has also failed to beat a player ranked above him since his 2013 Roland Garros win over Roger Federer.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga boasts the unique achievement of having beaten each of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray in Grand Slams at least once, and has a total of 13 wins over the Big Four. However, since Tsonga defeated Federer in the quarter finals of the French Open last year, he has taken just two sets in seven matches against the Big Four, and has been dumped out of three consecutive Grand Slams in the last 16 (by Federer in Australia, Djokovic in Paris and Wimbledon) without taking a set. Of particular concern was his feeble performance in front of a hopeful Parisien crowd which saw him take just 6 of 24 games against Novak Djokovic on Phillipe Chatrier.

Tsonga has often looked lost in the past 12 months. Perhaps he never recovered from the heavy defeat inflicted upon him by David Ferrer last summer as he bid to become the first home-grown finalist at Roland Garros since 1988. Maybe he's just reaching the beginning of his career's natural decline, injuries like the one that sidelined him for a sizeable chunk of 2013 could be taking their toll. It's also worth noting that his slump since reaching the semi-finals in Paris last year has coincided with the ending of his brief coaching arrangement with Roger Rasheed, who has worked wonders with Grigor Dimitrov since last October.

As always, there's no way of knowing definitively the reason(s) behind Tsonga's absence as a potential giant-killer, but what we're interested in as tennis fans is whether the big Frenchman will be back to upset the apple cart again before his time in the sport comes to an end.

While the results have been poor in the last year, particularly against elite opposition, fans of Tsonga can perhaps take some solace from his performance against Djokovic in the fourth round of Wimbledon, where he actually showed signs of playing some of his best tennis, despite going down in straight sets to the eventual champion. He has displayed many times in his career that, when he's on his game, his natural talent and easy power is, almost invariably, too hot to handle for anyone. But the statistics mentioned earlier paint a fairly damning picture about what Tsonga has been capable, or rather incapable of since returning from the injury that saw him pull out of Wimbledon and miss the US Open last year.

So have Jo-Wilfried Tsonga's days of upsetting the big guns come to an end? As a man who's all for a bit of chaos when the opportunity presents itself, I hope not, but with each tame defeat he suffers against the top opponents, those hopes fade further and I, like many others, will continue to look at the likes of Grigor Dimitrov, Milos Raonic and Ernests Gulbis as potential spoilers in big tournaments instead. Have your say in the poll and comments section below.

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I hope not but signs really are not good. That being said, it sucks that he has to meet either Federer or Djokovic in the past Slams as early as possible. I mean 3 consecutive Fedovic R16 is just unfair. Such is the beauty of the draw, I guess.
 

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Yes, I have not heard any news of Tsonga in recent years. I had completely forgot about him being a threat to the top players yet alone titles. Joe is well past his prime and his AO Semifinal against Rafa was the peak of his career: 6 years ago.
 

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If Tsonga can find some confidence back, he will bounce back. At the moment, it's unlikely, but I don't think it's impossible.

Yes, I have not heard any news of Tsonga in recent years. I had completely forgot about him being a threat to the top players yet alone titles. Joe is well past his prime and his AO Semifinal against Rafa was the peak of his career: 6 years ago.
From Queen's to WTF in 2011, he was almost as good as the Big 4, at least in terms of points.
 

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From Queen's to WTF in 2011, he was almost as good as the Big 4, at least in terms of points.
It's a shame Joe could never continue the form he had during that half-year run. He's always been frustrating to watch, because he has the talent and potential to be up there with the big 4, but just could never apply himself and execute his game on a consistent basis.
 

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SF at Montréal, QF at USO, title at Metz, title at Vienna, F at Paris-Bercy and F at WTF, that's pretty good IMO. I think Tsonga deserved to be #5 that year, but Ferrer's draws to make the finals at Monte-Carlo and Shanghai were just too much (not a single top 8 win).

H2H against the top 10 in that period :
2-4 vs Federer
2-1 vs Nadal
0-2 vs Djokovic (one retirement)
0-1 vs Murray (one tie-break away from winning)
1-0 vs Ferrer
1-1 vs Berdych
2-0 vs Fish
1-0 vs del Potro
 

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I hope not but signs really are not good. That being said, it sucks that he has to meet either Federer or Djokovic in the past Slams as early as possible. I mean 3 consecutive Fedovic R16 is just unfair. Such is the beauty of the draw, I guess.
his own fault for hovering at 10-20 ranking, naturally he's going to face a big gun in R16
 

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I hope not but signs really are not good. That being said, it sucks that he has to meet either Federer or Djokovic in the past Slams as early as possible. I mean 3 consecutive Fedovic R16 is just unfair. Such is the beauty of the draw, I guess.
This :sad:
 

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SF at Montréal, QF at USO, title at Metz, title at Vienna, F at Paris-Bercy and F at WTF, that's pretty good IMO. I think Tsonga deserved to be #5 that year, but Ferrer's draws to make the finals at Monte-Carlo and Shanghai were just too much (not a single top 8 win).

H2H against the top 10 in that period :
2-4 vs Federer
2-1 vs Nadal
0-2 vs Djokovic (one retirement)
0-1 vs Murray (one tie-break away from winning)
1-0 vs Ferrer
1-1 vs Berdych
2-0 vs Fish
1-0 vs del Potro
He did pretty good the rest of the year too, but the grass season was when he really played like a top player. Should've won Wimbledon, if not by that unreal 2011's version of Djokovic.
 

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I'm still not convinced. Obviously he's shown some form, which is good, but I wouldn't read into either of these wins too much. Djokovic didn't want to be there; Murray is hardly a giant nowadays, and still should have won. Though it should at the least give Jo confidence to play at a much higher level than he has done recently.
 

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These wins sound better than they actually were, Djokovic was obviously not fully dialed in and Murray is a spent force, not a 'giant'.

I actually think Jo's toughest opponents of the week are still to come, Dimitrov if he wins the match now and of course Federer. Not impossibly tough though, Jo has a decent chance to win the title here if he's focused and motivated. Winning it could very well trigger a ressurgence.
 
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