Jo-Wilfried Tsonga's "Pure Imagination"


On Sunday, in front of a jubilant crowd, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga beat Roger Federer in straight sets to win the Rogers Cup for the first time in his career.

After recording prominent victories over Andy ‘Monotone’ Murray and Grigor Dimitrov, Tsonga, 29, claimed just his second ever ATP Masters 1000 title. The Frenchman’s authoritative display against Federer, a 17-time Grand Slam winner, put the icing on the sweetest of cakes. Speaking of cakes, or lack of, Tsonga, looking leaner and sharper than ever before, seems to have adopted a more intense diet and training regime.

After defeating Wimbledon champion Novak Djokovic, as well as Murray and Dimitrov, Tsonga’s Toronto triumph displayed the cutting edge that often seems to be missing from his game. As passé as it sounded when he declared “if you believe in something it can happen,” this credence certainly seems to sit well on Jo’s rather broad shoulders.

Federer managed to cling on to the first set, and was even 30-0 up on Tsonga’s service at 5-5, even though the Frenchman won 93% of points on his first serve.

At the beginning of the Rogers Cup, as a No. 13 seed, Tsonga knew he was faced with an almost impossible task. Although he may not admit it, the French powerhouse hardly possessed lofty ambitions before entering the tournament. However, he systematically went about eliminating some of the most prominent names in tennis on the path to glory. And once he was faced with his final obstacle, possibly the greatest player in the history of tennis, Tsonga rose above him like Super Mario evading a pothole. Confident and assured, Jo let his potent serve and clever baseline game do all the talking. Defeating the second-seed 7-5, 7-6 at the Rexall Centre on Sunday, the younger opponent proved far too strong for the Swiss great.

Having struggled with crippling knee problems over the last few years, Tsonga pocketed a cool $598,900 US for winning the prestigious tournament. But don’t worry; Federer received $293,650 as the finalist, enough to buy him a decent bottle of wine to drown his sorrows.

With Rafa, the 2013 champion, having to withdraw due to injury, Tsonga defeated three members of the self-styled Fantastic Four last week.

Federer, a man so cool he makes Brad Pitt look like Piers Morgan, was his usual dependable self against Feliciano Lopez in the semi-final. The mid afternoon final start on Sunday may have been difficult for Roger to adequately prepare for, especially when you acknowledge the fact that the Lopez affair continued late into Saturday night. Somewhat erratic, the first set of Sunday’s final saw both players make some unprompted, impulsive errors, and although Tsonga laboured with his first serve at times, his revolving rocket of a second proved to be genuinely effective.

Ending an 18 month title drought, wonderful Willy made history by becoming the first Frenchman to prevail on Canadian soil, and this achievement sees him return to the Top 10 of the Emirates ATP Rankings.

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