tennJo-Wilfried Tsonga could not have asked for a better reward in his entire tennis career. The Frenchman produced amazing form in a dream week that began on August 4 and ended last Sunday. The 13th seeded Frenchman finished as the Rogers Cup winner to take the second ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title of his career, Tsonga denied Roger Federer his 300th match victory at ATP World Tour Masters 1000 level and the 80th tour-level title. Jimmy Connors with 109 and Ivan Lendl with 94 tour-level titles are the only two players, who are ahead of Federer. Tsonga also curtailed Federer’s joy of celebrating his 33rd birthday by handing the legendary Swiss a 7-5, 7-6 defeat.
Becoming the first Frenchman ever to win on Canadian soil, Tsonga also ended an 18-month old title drought since defeating Tomas Berdych in Marseille last year. But more importantly, Tsonga’s progress in the Rogers Cup was marked by his victories over Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray and Grigor Dimitrov in a space of four days before he came face-to-face with the great Roger Federer. It all started with the Frenchman pulling off the biggest upset at this year’s Rogers Cup, when he registered an easy victory against Djokovic. Tsonga needed just over an hour for the 6-2, 6-2 win, in which he scored 23 winners and converted every break point that came his way. Since the 2010 Australian Open, Djokovic had not lost to Tsonga in his previous 10 meetings with the Frenchman.
Next up for Tsonga was a hard quarterfinal battle against world no.9 Andy Murray. Unlike his previous match with Novak Djokovic, the duel with Murray was a see-saw game that lasted two and quarter hours. After winning the first set on tie-break, Tsonga lost the second. In the decider, Murray raced to a 3-0 lead but the Frenchman came back strongly for an immediate break back and earned a break himself, two games later. He didn’t err afterwards and ensured the semifinal berth for himself with a 7-6, 4-6, 6-4 victory. Tsonga fired 18 aces, and won 83 percent of his first-serve points with 42 winners.
Tsonga had the semifinal game against Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov, in which he produced his top form to overcome the fast-improving Bulgarian 6-4, 6-3 and set up the title clash with Federer. Tsonga, who was able to serve at 237 kmph against Andy Murray in the earlier match, continued with his good service against Dimitrov. He served 7 aces and won 88 percent of first-serve points with 22 clean winners against the Bulgarian. However, the first set was marked with three break points against Tsonga, when he served at 5-4 but the Frenchman held on and then completely dominated the second set to finish victorious in 84 minutes.
In the final against Federer, Tsonga’s serve became even better. The percentage of his first-serve winning points rose to 94 and he produced 11 aces. All through the match, Tsonga didn’t face any break of serves. Federer, however, was forced to save a match point on his own serve in the second set, when on 4-5 but despite the second set going to tie-break, Tsonga’s relentlessly attacking game was too much for Federer. The Frenchman was a picture of patience as he took the set and the match in an hour and 48 minutes. Incidentally, the two players have met in the Rogers Cup three times in the past and Tsonga has won on all the three occasions.
From Toronto, both players will move to Cincinnati for the Western & Southern Open, the seventh ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event of the year, beginning Monday. The tournament is usually regarded as the tune-up event for the US open in Flushing Meadows from August 25, 2014. Tsonga has been drawn to meet Mikhail Youzhny, while Federer will either face Radek Stepanek or Vasek Pospisil.