Tsonga returns, wraps up match at French Open
PARIS (AP) — Jo-Wilfried Tsonga followed up a long night of worrying with a short day of tennis.
In the end, everything turned out OK for France's favorite player.
The No. 5 seed returned to Roland Garros on Monday and finished off a five-set victory over No. 18 Stanislas Wawrinka, quickly dropping a service break but rebounding to win the last two games of a match that was suspended by darkness the night before.
"To a certain extent, it was a bit of a nightmare until the moment I hit my first ball, because before that, I had a thousand questions in my head," Tsonga said. "I really wanted to win that match, and it was very difficult."
Tsonga led 4-2 in the fifth when play resumed and won 6-4, 7-6 (6), 3-6, 3-6, 6-4 to advance to the French Open quarterfinals, with a meeting against No. 1 Novak Djokovic up next.
Tsonga's five sets against Wawrinka lasted 4 hours, 6 minutes, most of it played in the dimming light the night before. Still, the Frenchman said he felt as if the hardest work came after the restart.
"I've spent more energy in four games today than in five sets yesterday," he said.
Other winners Monday included 12th-seeded Nicolas Almagro, who defeated No. 8 Janko Tipsarevic of Serbia 6-4, 6-4, 6-4. Another Spaniard, sixth-seeded David Ferrer, wiped out No. 20 Marcel Granollers 6-3, 6-2, 6-0. Ferrer has dropped only 25 games en route to the quarterfinals.
"It's true that in the past four matches, I felt really comfortable. I felt really at ease," Ferrer said. "I think I have to continue this way."
Like Tsonga, Juan Martin del Potro returned to finish his match Monday. The No. 9 seed won the fourth set to close out a victory over No. 7 Tomas Berdych, 7-6 (6), 1-6, 6-3, 7-5. Del Potro will play Roger Federer in the quarterfinals. He is 2-11 against Federer, with one of the wins in the 2009 U.S. Open final.
Others on the schedule Monday included Rafael Nadal, Maria Sharapova, Andy Murray and Li Na, the only woman left in the field who has won the French Open.
Tsonga is trying to become the first Frenchman to win any Grand Slam tournament since Yannick Noah at Roland Garros in 1983 — a proposition even he conceded, before the tournament, is highly unlikely.
"It's still the same," he said after the fourth-round win. "I mean, I just did maybe 30 percent of the way. The most difficult is coming."
But the French faithful aren't being beaten down by the odds. On Sunday night, Tsonga was the crowd favorite, serenaded with "Allez Tsonga" by the fans, a few dozen of whom waved the French tricolor as the sun went down.
Coming back early Monday was a different story, with Tsonga playing in front of a less fervent crowd and needing to rev up quickly for a match that would be decided within minutes. Then, he promptly came out and gave up a break.
"It wasn't easy last night, but it can't have been easy for him, either," Wawrinka said.
In his first French Open quarterfinal, Tsonga will face Djokovic, who is trying to become the first man to win four straight Grand Slam tournaments since 1969. Tsonga has a 5-5 record against Djokovic. One of the losses came in the 2008 Australian Open final, but Tsonga followed with four straight victories in 2008 and 2009.
"Well, back then he was not as good as he is. He was young. He was very young," Tsonga said.
The Frenchman will clearly have the fans on his side, though he's well aware that isn't always enough against a player like Djokovic.
"It's going to be a very difficult match," Tsonga said. "But obviously I'll fight like a lion and we'll see the result. I'll do everything I can to make it a difficult match for him."