WASHINGTON, D.C. – From the way he looked for much of this week at the Citi Open in Washington, D.C., Jo-Wilfried Tsonga is on his way back.
Ranked No. 70 coming into the week, his two victories mean he will jump 10 spots in the rankings, to No. 60 on Monday.
It will be the Frenchman’s highest ranking in a year. And if he keeps it up, he’ll soon get to the point where he won’t need wild cards to get into the big tournaments.
But for now, as concerned the Masters 1000 in Montreal next week, the 34-year-old Frenchman had to hurry up – and wait.
Tsonga said after his win over No. 2 seed Karen Khachanov Tuesday (his first victory over a top-10 players since Oct. 2017) that he had discussed a wild card with the Rogers Cup organizers.
He certainly had the resumé to merit it. Not only did he win the tournament in 2014 (the biggest title of his career, with the 2008 Paris Masters tournament having a smaller draw), but he’s hugely popular in Montreal.
Part of that is the fact that he speaks the language. The other part is that he’s basically popular wherever he goes.
But Tsonga told Tennis.Life the tournament was holding back the final wild card for a “big player”.
We’ve heard that before. Often, it ends up not happening. And that was indeed the case, as it was announced Thursday evening that Tsonga would be given that final wild card.
The Frenchman was headed to Montreal Thursday night. If the wild card hadn’t come through, he told Tennis.Life he would play the qualifying.
Little qualifying data available
Tsonga hasn’t needed to play qualifying for many years. But the last injury, which required knee surgery, and his slow road back has meant he’s either used his special ranking, or received wild cards for the most part.
He played the qualifying in Miami in March. And although he won the first round against Lukas Rosol, he then lost to Pablo Cuevas.
So it’s probably a blessing that he didn’t have to go through it.
Tsonga’s last appearance in qualifying prior to Miami this year went all the way back to Queen’s Club … in 2007. He won three rounds there, and lost to Marin Cilic in the quarterfinals. He took a wild card into the second week of Wimbledon a few weeks later.
Big-time against Schnur and Khachanov
Tsonga appeared to be moving like vintage Tsonga in his 6-4, 7-6 victory over Canadian qualifier Brayden Schnur in the first round.
And he looked just as good against Khachanov in the second round. That was a match he was particularly pleased to have won.
Against Kyle Edmund Thursday, it was tight. But he wasn’t able to take advantage of his opportunities, with 18 aces and seven break points (he converted only one).
But he wasn’t unhappy with the match overall. Little by little, he’s getting there.