‘Pray it doesn’t happen’ – Gael Monfils hopes to avoid retiring Jo-Wilfried Tsonga at final French Open
Gael Monfils believes it would be “really hard” to compete against a retiring Jo-Wilfried Tsonga as he plays in his final French Open.
Earlier this month, former World number five Jo-Wilfried Tsonga became the latest legend to announce his retirement from the sport. The Frenchman will retire after the French Open, his home Slam, draws to a close.
This comes after 2009 US Open winner and former World number three Juan Martin del Potro also retired earlier this year. These revelations seemingly mark a generation shift in men’s tennis.
Similarly, three-time Grand Slam great Ashleigh Barty also shocked the sporting world with her decision to retire aged just 25 whilst being reigning champion at the Australian Open and Wimbledon as well as the current World number one.
Tsonga, alongside Gael Monfils, Gilles Simon and Richard Gasquet have largely spearheaded French tennis for the past 15 years. Monfils shared that the latter trio, who are all in their mid-thirties, joke about retirement amongst themselves.
Now, talking to Radio France Internationale, Monfils said “I’ve been wondering about playing Jo at Roland Garros.
“Honestly, I’d have a really hard time playing Jo. I’m praying that it doesn’t happen.
“Jo, since he was very young, has always been the driving force, the big brother, even if we are only one year apart.
“I have never been so happy as when I was selected for the French Davis Cup team: I had the chance to play with Jo and for me it was exceptional.
“In training at the national sport institute, he was the only one who was allowed to wear his cap backwards, he was the strongest guy. You are 14-years-old and you want to be Jo Tsonga.”
Prior to the Monte Carlo Masters, Monfils shared a training session with his countryman Tsonga to test out his foot, saying “I said to myself: ‘I don’t care, I’m training with him because these are his last training sessions.’
“These will be the last moments when we are still players together even if we are friends for life.’
“As a fan I want to see him play a little bit more because these last years have been harder for him physically. These last years do not represent the great player he is.”
Monfils and Tsonga encountered each other on eight occasions throughout their storied careers but their head-to-head record remains level at four wins each.
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