Read & Watch: Tsonga Returns To Familiar Territory In Brisbane
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga reached his first quarter-final in 11 months on Thursday, beating Japan's Taro Daniel 7-6(5), 6-3 at the Brisbane International. The 33-year-old Frenchman missed seven months because of a knee injury last season and underwent surgery on 3 April. He reached the semi-finals at the Open Sud de France in February but finished the year only 5-7.
But the former World No. 5 looked like his former self against Daniel, winning nearly 70 per cent (23/34) of second-serve return points and breaking five times for the straight-sets win. It's the first time Tsonga has won back-to-back matches since Montpellier.
“It was one of my goals to be able to play two matches in a row. Now the new goal is going to be to win three matches in a row and be able to stay healthy. That's most important for me,” Tsonga said. “Of course, I'm really happy for the win, but also really happy to be able to play the next match, too.”
Tsonga will next face #NextGenATP Aussie Alex de Minaur for the first time. De Minaur had his breakout season last year. He was voted the 2018 ATP Newcomer of the Year and ended his season as the runner-up at the Next Gen ATP Finals.
“He can do many things on the court. He can defend. He can take the court, keep his position,” Tsonga said. “I think he reminds everybody of a certain Lleyton Hewitt, of course. But maybe a little bit more aggressive, because I played Lleyton a few times, too. But he's got the same legs.”
Daniel, a lucky loser, took the place of top seed Rafael Nadal, who withdrew on Wednesday because of a left thigh strain.
Jeremy Chardy saved a match point against Japan's Yasutaka Uchiyama to move into his first semi-final since June at the Fever-Tree Championships in London. Uchiyama had a match point on Chardy's serve at 6-5 in the third set, but Chardy erased it and won the final four points of the tie-break to advance 6-4, 3-6, 7-6(4).
“Before the match I didn’t know my opponent but he played very well and it was tough right till the end. I saved a match point. I didn’t play quite as well as my first two matches but I got through it, which is the most important thing,” Chardy said.
The 26-year-old Uchiyama didn't contest a tour-level match in 2018, but he qualified for the ATP 250 and upset third seed Kyle Edmund in straight sets to make the quarter-finals. Chardy will next face 2017 champion Grigor Dimitrov or second seed Kei Nishikori.