Tuesday, August 28, 2012
|Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga celebrates advancing to 2012 US Open second round.|
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga screamed to the blue heavens and pumped his signature double bicep curl, complete with thumbs pointing towards elated eyes as the gallery, solidly behind him, whooped in delight. The charismatic Frenchman completed his first US Open match of 2012 with a dominance fitting his career-best no. 5 seed, ousting Slovakian qualifier Karol Beck 6-3, 6-1, 7-6 (2) to advance to the second round.
"I think I played good tennis the first two sets, and after that I lost a bit concentration at the beginning of the third set," said Tsonga. "Then I came back, and, you know, I did some effort to come back. It was not easy today because the weather was hot. I'm happy to go through this round really quickly."
Tsonga blended a sharp, booming forehand with nifty net play throughout, running Beck around the sunlit Grandstand. The drop shots fell early and often, as Tsonga won the point on 22 of 27 (81 percent) net approaches.
"He was moving really well," said Beck of Tsonga. "It was a tough draw, a tough player for the first round. I was trying to play more to his backhand and I thought it was going well in the third set, but you have to be better than playing your 100-percent best to beat someone like him."
Beck finally broke Tsonga early in the third set, trading service games through 5-4 and Beck serving for the set when Tsonga showed resolve, breaking back. Serving to go up 6-5, he swept all the points, punctuated by a 130 mile-per-hour ace, his thirteenth and final one of the match. Beck held serve and the two went to a tiebreak, where Tsonga finished things quickly, leading to his signature celebratory salute.
Up next for the 27-year-old will be another unranked Slovak, left-handed Martin Klizan, who defeated Colombia’s Alejandro Falla 6-4, 6-1, 6-2 on Monday for his first-ever US Open main draw victory. The two have never met as professionals.
Since Tsonga’s Wimbledon upset of 17-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer, Tsonga’s has placed quarterfinals-or-better in four of five majors, including his longest trek in New York in 2011 where he defeated No. 19 Fernando Verdasco and No. 8 Mardy Fish before losing to Federer in the quarters. Should he reach the same round in 2012, it's likely that Olympic gold medalist Andy Murray will be waiting. The two have had their share of stellar matchups in the Slams, most recently a tough four-setter in July at Wimbledon won by Murray 6-3, 6-4, 3-6, 7-5.
Photos by Getty Images