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Tsonga plays down French Open chances

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Originally published on 26/05/14

The world No.14 came through his first-round match against fellow Frenchman Edouard Roger-Vasselin 7-6(4) 7-5 6-2 on Monday, but has not been firing on all cylinders so far in 2014. He suffered a surprise early exit in Indian Wells and is yet to make it past the quarter-final stage on clay this season.

Asked if he is sure he will make it to the last four in Paris, he said: “No, I'm not convinced, not yet. Sometimes you're convinced only when you've reached this stage. I am taking it each round at a time. Next time is going to be against David Goffin or Jurgen Melzer, and this is an important round so I will focus on this one.”

The 29-year-old started slowly against Roger-Vasselin before going through the gears and sealing victory in two hours and 21 minutes. He admits it took him a while to assert himself on the contest but was pleased with the way he raised his game.

“At the beginning I was a bit nervous and I was not hitting enough on the important points. I should have done that in the different games, that is what I could have really done better,” he said. “But I didn't go for these shots. Then during the match I felt better and I was more aggressive then.

"I hope that next time for the following match I'll be able to do this from the beginning. “I think it's a bit of everything. It's due to the fact that I didn't have enough confidence, given the matches I had played before, and it's also the beginning of a Grand Slam. And it's also because it's here, it's Roland Garros, and I want to play well here.”

The last Frenchman to win Roland Garros was Yannick Noah in 1983 when he beat Mats Wilander in straight sets. Tsonga is the leading hope for French fans this year and is looking forward to feeding off the energy of the partisan crowd.

“This is when I play my best tennis, when I'm in France, when the crowd is with me,” he said. “ I'm very happy to play with the French crowd. They are very demanding if you're not winning, that's true, but French crowd is special, because if you win you can do what you want, more or less.

“If you lose, then anything you do, the slightest details, you're going to pay for it. That's the way it is. But that's how the French are, and I'm French, as well. So it's part and parcel of the whole thing. You have to accept it.”

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