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Tsonga: The lone musketeer

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Originally published on: 09/01/12 09:54

Ahead of his run to the final at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals last November, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga revealed a rare chink in the armour. “The only person who intimidates me is my mother,” said the seemingly fearless Muhammad Ali-look-alike, before promptly making the second biggest final of his career.

Less than two months later, he’s just defeated compatriot Gael Monfils for the Doha title – perfect preparation for the Australian Open, the scene of his biggest career achievement having made the Melbourne final in 2008.

Riding a wave, if current form is anything to go by, the charismatic Frenchman talks about the Grand Slams, remaining coach-less and bringing back the power…

On winning a major
“For the moment there are only three players who win Grand Slams. They haven’t given one opportunity [for others] to win Grand Slams [for the last] six or seven years. Novak, Roger and Rafa are on top, but there is also Andy. They dominate.”

The need for speed
“My biggest achievement in 2011 was that I was more consistent, consistent in my head, and that’s why I was good [last] year. I lost a bit physically so I need to improve again. I have to work hard to make my body quicker on the court, to move better. Maybe if I move better [this] year, I will have some even better results.”

Bringing back the power
“Before, I had a lot of energy and I was running faster, hitting harder, but I was crazy on the court. I think [last] year I just improved this. I’m maybe less fast, less powerful, but I’m better in my head.”

Beating Federer at Wimbledon 2011
“Coming back against Roger is not the same as a comeback against another player. He’s now the best player ever. It’s something big I did. I was two sets down and I said ‘okay, you’re two sets down, it’s not finished’. In tennis, the special thing is that the match isn’t finished until after the last point. You’re still in it even if you have to defend a match point.”

On life without a coach
“Without a coach you have more responsibility. You have to be really professional. I’m improving my game all the time, so it think I’m fine for the moment like this and I will see in the future. Sometimes there are two or three [voices] in my head anyway, so it’s fine.”

On cracking the top five
“For 2012, it’s going to be my goal. But it was my goal also for this year and the past year. It’s difficult to achieve, but I hope I will do it soon.”

World Tour Finals
“For us it’s like the fifth Grand Slam. To qualify was really important and it was really exciting to fight for [the title].”

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga also featured in Volume 2 Issue 4 of tennishead magazine. Click here for more information about how to subscribe.

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