Thursday, June 23, 2011
A very elated Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, France, celebrates his Day 4 win at 2011 Wimbledon Championships
|Grigor Dimitrov and Tsonga|
The 12th-seeded Frenchman recovered from losing the first set to edge out the 20-year-old 6-7(4), 6-4, 6-4, 7-6(8) but was made to work all the way in a contest that saw both players warm up four times due to the unforgiving weather.
If the world No.62 was nervous about his outing on the No.1 Court, he certainly didn't show it. Maybe it was because he had played Tsonga earlier this year in Rotterdam where the Bulgarian had put up a good show in a 6-4, 6-4 defeat, which gave him an idea of what it is like to face the French giant. In addition, he was well-acquainted with these lawns having picked up the Boys' Singles title in 2008.
He was firing on all cylinders in the opening set despite the rain, which started to fall after just two points and forced the umpire to suspend play a further two points later. As soon as they walked off, the rain stopped. It was a pattern that would be repeated throughout the encounter.
While much of the first set went with serve, it was always Tsonga who seemed under pressure. He seemed to be forever staving off break points. The ninth game was a classic example. Tsonga blasted two balls out and an unfortunate net cord handed Dimitrov three break points. The 26-year-old managed to save them but then faced another when Dimitrov fired off an outstanding return. Again Tsonga saved it and two aces later he had managed to hold, but it was a shaky game and did not bode well for the expected victor. An error-strewn tiebreak, in which Tsonga double-faulted and ballooned a forehand and backhand long, did not help and he lost it 7-4
Early in the second the rainclouds were once again closing in as the men continued their sparkling baseline game, with each taking their turn to pin each other to the back of the court. Tsonga broke for a 2-1 lead just as the heavens opened for the second time. When the Frenchman returned he looked notably sharper and went on to win the second and third sets 6-4.
However, Tsonga's form dropped in the fourth. He was broken in the opening game and when rain returned again to suspend play for a third time he trailed 3-0. Tsonga came out of the delay the stronger man, holding serve and then breaking. A precision lob looped over the Bulgarian's head to set up two break points at 3-3 and Tsonga engineered a forehand crosscourt winner to break and take the lead.
But by the time Tsonga was serving for the match at 5-4, his inconsistency returned. On his first match point he served a double fault before a second match point came and went and he was forced to kiss the game goodbye. A further three match points passed Tsonga by in the tiebreak but he eventually sealed it on his sixth and jumped over the net to help up his opponent who had collapsed to the ground amid all the excitement.