Jo-Wilfried Tsonga capped an amazing run in Canada by besting Roger Federer (2) in the final of the Rogers Cup, 7-5, 7-6(3). Including his win over Federer today, Tsonga had to defeat four Top-10 players to grasp the trophy: Novak Djokovic (1), Andy Murray (9), and Grigor Dimitrov (8). This second win at the Masters 1000 level (he won Paris in 2008) puts Tsonga back in the Top 10. Although his year to date had been disappointing, he came into this tournament looking very fit, focused, and combining his power game and big serve with good shot selection and a steely determination that hasn’t always been a hallmark of his game.
The Frenchman struggled early with his first serve, but both players stayed on serve in the first, with Tsonga’s first serve percentage improving and his holds becoming easier. As Federer served at 5-6 to force a tiebreak, the great Swiss champion made some wild unforced errors to hand the Frenchman the break and the first set. In the second, Tsonga’s service games were more solid, while Federer, who marked his 33rd birthday during the tournament, struggled through several long games just to hold. Serving at 4-5, Tsonga had a championship point, though Federer eked out the hold, eventually forcing the tiebreak. But when Tsonga had three more championship points at 6-3 in the tiebreak, he converted the first to take the match.
For fans and admirers of Tsonga, he has often been frustrating to follow, with injuries and strings of inconsistent play undermining his natural gifts. But this week showed a resurgent and mature player. If he continues this form, he will likely pose a real danger in the draw at the US Open. With even a decent run at the Western and Southern Masters 1000 in Cincinnati, which begins today, no one will be interested in facing him in Flushing Meadows.
Cover Photo (Creative Commons License): Marianne Bevis