As arguably the finest French sportsmen in non-team based sports, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga has become one of the most dominating and engrossing players of his era. At 32, he might be heading towards the end of what has been a vastly impressive career, but there is still much to come until we reach that point. Ranked #11th at the moment in the ATP Rankings, the right-handed star from Le Mans has become a true icon of the sport both at home and abroad. With his incredible power and outstanding spirit on the court, he’s an example to all who wish to see how commitment and controlled attacking play can create the perfect modern tennis player.
His father was a former handball player, and his mother was a teacher, so Tsonga comes from a strong sporting and academic background. This ability to both be incredibly competitive and to always weigh up the right decision on the court is one of the reasons why Tsonga has become such a major name within the tennis world.
In 2007, he burst onto the scene as the Newcomer of the Year, and in 2008 he followed that up with the Most Improved Player of the Year award – handed out by his fellow pros. In his early 20s, the powerhouse Frenchman was on his way to establishing a legacy of his own. Indeed, when he reached the 2008 Paris-Bercy final, it received the second-highest TV audience on French TV, on Canal+. With 1.3m viewers for the match point, this was one of the biggest watches matches for a match of this size!
It just goes to show the incredible appeal that Tsonga has on the public. With nine seasons already ended in the Top 15 and 6 in the Top 10, he’s a player who has always been just outside of the elite Djokovic/Murray/Nadal/Federer axis, alongside the likes of Stan Wawrinka. His career high, 5th, came in 2012.
In terms of actual tournaments, he’s reached the Australian Open Final, doing so in 2007, and also reached five semi-finals in other Grand Slams such as Roland Garros and the US Open. His major title in terms of Grand Slam wins has been the 2003 US Open Junior Title.
While one could argue that Tsonga never won the titles that his talent deserves, it’s more to do with the sheer quality of those ahead of him. Being as good as he is, there is no shame in being slightly bested by a very small collection of the elite. In another era, there is a good chance that Tsonga would stand out as one of the most storied and successful tennis players of all-time. if one thing has held him back, it’s been his placement in time.