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Ageing Tsonga says best is yet to come

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Originally published on: 18/04/12 00:00

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga celebrated his 27th birthday at this week’s Monte Carlo Masters 1000 tournament and admits he is “not that young any more”. However, the Frenchman still believes that his best days could be ahead of him and takes heart from others who have peaked in the latter stages of their careers.

“Many players play their best tennis late in their career, mainly French players,” Tsonga said. “Apparently French players get better after 27 years old! It encourages me, of course. Many players play their best tennis when they are 30.”

Of the top 15 Frenchmen in the current world rankings, seven are over the age of 30, with 34-year-old Arnaud Clement the oldest. The other thirty-somethings are Michael Llodra (31), Stephane Robert (31), Florent Serra (31), Julien Benneteau (30), Nicolas Mahut (30) and Eric Prodon (30).

Asked whether he felt birthdays were more significant for athletes, Tsonga said: “Yes, because you see time is going by. I know now I'm 27 and I'm in the second part of my career. I'm not that young any more.  I played my first professional match at 19 years old. I've been on the tour for eight years. I know I'm not going to be on the tour for the next eight years.”

Could the world No.5 pinpoint how much longer he would be playing? “I try not to think about it,” Tsonga said. “I have no plans because I don't know what the future holds for me. I'm just living one day after the other.”

A back injury meant that Tsonga made a slower start to his career than many players, but he has gone on to win eight singles titles and four in doubles. However, he insisted: “I have no particular admiration for what I did in the past. I don't think what I did was bad either. I just think that I might have even more beautiful things to experience in the future.”

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