Tsonga ends career as injury leads to French exit
7: 42 AM ET
Tom HamiltonSenior Writer
- Joined ESPN in 2011
Covered two Olympics and a pair Rugby World Cups, as well as two British & Irish Lions tours
Previously rugby editor, and became senior writer in 2018
PARIS — Jo-Wilfried Tsonga bid an emotional farewell to tennis in a special presentation on Court Philippe Chatrier at Roland Garros after losing his first-round match Tuesday at the French Open to Casper Ruud.
Tsonga, 37, announced last week that he would bow out after this year’s tournament, bringing an end to a career that saw him reach the 2008 Australian Open final and 18 career titles. Ruud, the No. 8 seed, was Tsonga’s opponent. Tsonga faced Ruud, the No. 8 seed, in round one. Despite a valiant performance, injury ended his hopes of winning. He lost 6-7 (6) 7-6(4), 7-6(4), 6-2 and 7-6(0).
France’s Tsonga started off brilliantly, winning the tiebreak, but losing the subsequent two. He broke Ruud in the fourth to give himself the opportunity to serve at 6-5. He injured his shoulder while winning the break point on his forehand. When he tried to serve for the set, he couldn’t lift his arm properly and couldn’t lift it properly. That left him underpowered to the extent that he threw in an underarm effort at 15-30, with Ruud breaking him back. Tsonga called for a medical break, but he lost the tiebreak 7-0. To mark Tsonga’s final match in the sport of tennis, the French Tennis Federation hosted a special presentation on the court. Former coaches and family members were there as well. Fellow players Gael Monfils, Richard Gasquet and Gilles Simon also joined Tsonga on court — the quartet dubbed the New Musketeers when they broke through — and there were video messages from Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray.
Tsonga – who at his peak reached No. 5 in the men’s rankings in 2012 — addressed the crowd, and in his speech thanked those who helped him on his journey and for helping him to “remain myself, Jo.” He spoke about how lucky he was to achieve his dream, but also about the pressure that he felt in the spotlight. He said how he was “one-day Swiss, one-day French” in the eyes his critics. One day, one day black, one day white. He stated that he was perceived as “one-day a fraud, another as a national hero”, and “one-day young, one-day old.” “
He said he hoped that the world would find peace and added that he had found peace within his own self at the end of the career.
” The crowd was incredible today, supporting me as well as giving me the strength to fight,” Tsonga stated. I ended on the court playing as I did throughout my career. It will always be a good memory. In a way, it was like I had hoped to finish. “
2021 French Open runner-up Stefanos Tsitsipas, the No. 4 seed, dropped the opening two sets before getting past Lorenzo Musetti 5-7, 4-6, 6-2, 6-3, 6-2 at Court Philippe Chatrier as the calendar flipped from Tuesday to Wednesday and the temperature dipped to about 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 Celsius). Tsitsipas held a two-set advantage against Djokovic a year ago.
Women who advanced to the second round included 2017 champion Jelena Ostapenko, 2018 champion Simona Halep, No. 7 seed Aryna Sabalenka, No. 9 Danielle Collins, No. 11 Jessica Pegula and No. 22 Madison Keys.
Also Tuesday, Sebastian Korda advanced with a 6-1, 7-5, 7-6 (6) victory over Australian veteran John Millman.
The American player, seeded 27th, fended off two set points in the tiebreaker and converted his fourth match point when Millman hit a forehand volley long.
Korda, who is 21, had 43 unforced errors to Millman’s 25. Millman is 6 at Roland Garros.
Korda reached the fourth round at the French Open in 2020 as a qualifier. Millman, who is 32, was a quarterfinalist at the 2018 US Open.
Another American, Frances Tiafoe, beat Benjamin Bonzi 7-5, 7-5, 7-6 (5) for his first win at Roland Garros after six first-round defeats.
Tiafoe, who is ranked 24th, converted just five of 23 break point opportunities against his French opponent but advances to a second-round match against David Goffin of Belgium.
Tiafoe reached the fourth round at the US Open in both 2020 and 2021.
The 24-year-old American first lost at Roland Garros in 2015, then failed to qualify for the tournament the next year.
Daniil Medvedev started the day with a 6-2, 6-2, 6-2 win over Facundo Bagnis of Argentina on Court Suzanne Lenglen. The No. The No. 2 seed and US Open champion was a quarterfinalist in Roland Garros last season after four consecutive losses in the first round.
Danish teenager Holger Rune then upset 14th-seeded Denis Shapovalov 6-3, 6-1, 7-6 (4).
Rune, who is 19, won the BMW Open this month and was a semifinalist in Lyon last week.
Shapovalov fought back in the third set to force a tiebreak but fell behind 3-1 and couldn’t recover, sending a forehand wide on match point.
Later, Hugo Gaston pulled off a five-set victory over 19th-seeded Alex De Minaur of Australia. The Frenchman trailed by 3-0 in the final set after losing nine consecutive games. However, he battled back to defeat De Minaur 4-6.6-2.6-3. 0-6, 7-6 (4), in a match that lasted almost four hours.
The 21-year-old left-hander rattled off five straight points in the tiebreaker to clinch victory in front of the home fans at Court Suzanne Lenglen.
No. 7 seed Andrey Rublev of Russia was also among Tuesday’s later winners, as he defeated Kwon Soon-woo of South Korea, 6-7 (5), 6-3, 6-2, 6-4.
Information from The Associated Press was included in this report.
The author of 5 books, 3 of which are New York Times bestsellers. I’ve been published in more than 100 newspapers and magazines and am a frequent commentator on NPR.