Tsonga Sets Nishikori Blockbuster At Roland Garros
Home favourite Jo-Wilfried Tsonga set a blockbuster second-round battle against seventh seed Kei Nishikori on Monday by beating German Peter Gojowczyk 7-6(4), 6-1, 4-6, 6-3 in two hours and 21 minutes to advance at Roland Garros. It is the Frenchman's first trip to the second round on the Parisian terre battue since 2016, as he did not compete here last season and lost in the first round in 2017.
"I'm very happy to be here," Tsonga said. "It's been two years I hadn't played here. It's fantastic and Roland Garros has really changed, so for us players everything has been transformed positively, and it's very great."
Tsonga, who missed seven months of 2018 due to left knee surgery, fell as low as No. 262 in the ATP Rankings last November. But Tsonga is already back to World No. 82, and he triumphed in Montpellier this February.
"It's been difficult, because each time I want to do my best, I'm putting myself under pressure," Tsonga said. "I need to revitalise things a bit more and to let my tennis play and enjoy each moment."
Nishikori is a familiar foe for Tsonga. The Japanese star leads the pair's FedEx ATP Head2Head series 5-3, but seven of those eight matches came on hard courts. At 2015 Roland Garros, Tsonga defeated Nishikori in a five-set marathon lasting three hours and 45 minutes to reach the semi-finals. That was tied for the Frenchman's best result at his home Grand Slam, also making the last four in 2013.
"I was really in the match with beautiful intentions. I had played very well the first two sets, and then there was this stop because of the panel, and he came back with different intentions than what was happening during the first two sets," Tsonga said. "The match was balanced. He came back, and I did a fantastic fifth set on the centre court with a fantastic crowd. So that's the type of matches you enjoy, because everything is present. You have a great player in front of you. You play your best tennis. You have a crowd cheering you. And it's the best scenario you can have in Roland Garros."