Tennis dreams do come true! I was starting to despair, given Roger Federer’s loss in Australia, but sometimes it’s the small things – like a Tsonga vs. Llodra final – that make me believe again.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga beat Novak Djokovic in the Marseille semis today: 6-4, 7-6 (1). Yes, Tsonga won that final tie break 7-1! The Frenchman said it was the best match he played all year, oozing a champion’s confidence in his own modest way: “I have played an extraordinary match. I have been heroic on every important point. I am proud of having played such a match.”
Tsonga now has a 4-1 head-to-head edge over Djokovic. He’s reached the quarter finals or better in all six of the tournaments he’s played this season, and won a title a couple weeks ago at the SA Open. Djokovic continues to struggle, having not yet made it to a final this year. Novak fans should take comfort in the fact that the year’s still young – he’s pacing himself!
Novak said after the match that Tsonga has the potential to reach the top five. Not a bad prediction considering that Jo-Wilfried (currently ranked 12) was ranked as high as 6 in the world last November. It’s getting tight at the top, and with mega points to defend and Andy Murray continuing his dominant form, I think Nole is starting to worry about dropping out of the top five, himself.
Ah, but on to my guy Michael Llodra! I love this man. If you don’t know why, click here to read my ode. Let’s just say that he’s a Frenchman with a sense of humor and beaucoup flair. He plays like a cute, non-Worm dancing Stepanek, with an attacking serve and volley game. Also, he’s pushing 30 and trying, fairly successfully, to save himself from the obscurity of doubles specialism. This will be his sixth career singles final.
If I had to agree to watch only one nation play tennis, I would pick the French. And tomorrow we can see what this scenario would look like – click here for free online streaming from Marseille (haven’t tried it yet, hope it works!)
Photo: AP/Claude Paris