Friday, January 29, 2010

Australian Open Day 12: Tsonga!

Curtain Call

Player: Jo-Wilfred Tsonga
Nation: France
Age: 24
Current Ranking: 10
Notable Conquest: Novak Djokovic (3rd seed, Serbia)
Tour Page
Today's Result: loss to Roger Federer (1st, Switzerland) in straight sets

Tsonga is not the most talented of tennis's new wave but he is the most charismatic. Seriously, if this guy isn't marketable to a world audience, I can't imagine who would be. There is, however, the question of whether or not he qualifies as part of the new wave in that he's actually older than Nadal. His game is certainly Slamworthy and he has been to a Slam final but he hasn't yet shown the consistency to be a threat over the course of the tennis season.

Aussie has been Tsonga's best Slam: runner-up, quarters and semis over the past three years. There's no shame in that, of course. It was Agassi's best Slam, too. But what does it say about a player when he has great success in Melbourne but hasn't been past the fourth round at any of the others? To me, it says that his off-season conditioning is excellent. When well-rested, he can stand toe-to-toe with just about anyone. But as the season wears on, his physical advantages diminish. Many questions loom over the 2010 season with Nadal's injury situation (out for four weeks officially - but then what sort of player will he be upon return?) and perhaps Tsonga is another who stands to benefit. If he is to do it, he'd be wise to make a strong move before clay court season begins in April. Tsonga is definitely not at his best on the dirt.

For Federer, the consecutive Slam finals streak is up to eight. Far more impressive to me is the fact that for the 23rd consecutive Slam, a stretch nearly six years in length, Federer will once again either win the tournament or lose to the guy who does. He is the gatekeeper, period. It's absolutely amazing. Is there any precedent for this?

Why oh why did they have to move the singles finals to the night session? I go through the dilemma every year: do I get up at a ridiculous hour to watch or do I sleep? Every year, I say I'll try to get up. Every year, sleep wins. Fortunately, the men's final has gone on long enough the past few years that I can still catch a bit towards the end upon rising at a reasonable time.

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