SONY ERICSSON OPEN 2012
Catching Up With Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
by Joe McGovern|
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga burst onto the tennis scene in 2008 when as an unseeded player he advanced to the Australian Open final, eliminating Rafael Nadal in straight sets and winning the hearts of millions of fans along the way. Since then he has won eight ATP titles and has risen to his career-best World No. 6 in the rankings.
The charismatic 26-year-old Frenchman caught up with SonyEricssonOpen.com after his 6-3, 6-2 defeat of Florian Mayer to talk about his Wednesday night match versus Rafael Nadal and his occasional necessity to resist the urge to smile.
Florian Mayer took out John Isner in the previous round. Are you surprised to have beaten him in just 53 minutes?
Yes, it was a bit easier than I thought. I played great, I felt like I was good shape, and he missed a lot. So I guess that’s why when you look at the score it says 53 minutes.
Tomorrow night you’re going up against Rafa Nadal. You beat him twice last year, including your last meeting on hardcourt at the ATP World Finals. What are your thoughts on the matchup?
I know it’s going to be a tough match. It always is against the top-ranked players. And Nadal is going to fight until the last point, so I have to be aggressive and take my time in the match. I’m looking forward to it.
You’ve been playing without a coach since November.
[Smiling] Yes, still no coach.
How has that been going?
Ah, I feel good. I have the best ranking of my life. I’m very relaxed, I feel like I have no pressure, I have good times. I travel and I practice when I’m supposed to. I have it all figured out.
You are well-loved for your dance moves on court after you win. Is there any truth to the story that you were planning to cut back on that?
No, no. When I’m happy I do it and that’s it.
Did you get a chance to dance at all this past weekend at the Ultra Music Festival? It was all over downtown Miami.
Yeah, yeah, I knew about it. My hotel was not far away, so I was very aware. But it was impossible for me. During the tournament we try to stay quiet and save energy. We need to put our energy on the court.
Was it hard, though, not to join in?
Really hard. [Laughs]
You’re known to be one of the happier guys on the tour. You always seem to be smiling when you’re out on the court. Is that natural or is it something that you were taught?
Well, how much I’m smiling sometimes depends on the score. [Laughs] It’s natural, of course. But I have to hold it in sometimes. If I was really natural on the court, I would be smiling all match long. And that’s not too good because my opponent has to see somebody across the net who is focused and serious. So sometimes when I need to look focused, I have to fake it.
Get the VIP treatment and go behind the scenes with the 2013 Priceless Experiences Program Presented by MasterCard. Go
This exclusive venue features an upscale restaurant, trendy bar and lounge area which allow guests the opportunity to escape the heat.Go