Tsonga Triumphant in Tough First Round Test

March 3, 2012

ATP Tennis News

In a match that was more closely fought than the end result would suggest, world No.6 Jo-Wilfred Tsonga was embroiled in a difficult first round challenge against Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan on a packed Margaret Court Arena during day two of the tournament.

Set One: First Blood, Tsonga

Donned in a sweatband around his head, resembling the headgear of the Karate Kid, Tsonga, the Mohammed Ali of tennis, was enthralled in a one-on-one fight of his own for all to see.  It was a quality match in many ways, as both players had to unleash their power game and fire from both wings during the exchanged rallies. The pair have met on two previous occasions with Tsonga leading the head to head 2-0, beating him most recently in straight sets on the grass courts of Eastbourne in 2011, enabling Tsonga to know his competitor and his game.

On this occasion, Tsonga came across a very different Istomin – the 6’2” Uzbek was in the zone, extremely focused and gave very little away during the enthralling match. Tsonga was able to take the first set 6-4 after playing impeccably, smothering the Uzbek with his heavy groundstrokes and long exchanges from the onset.

Set Two: Let the Battle Commence

The second set could not have been more different, as gaining control proved an even greater challenge to surmount for Tsonga.  The 6th seed appeared to lose concentration during the set, proving costly, as it allowed Istomin back into the contest and have the opportunity to level the match at 6-3, as his service game was broken twice.

Set Three: Breaking Down the Armour

Tsonga needed to uncoil his big shoulders to penetrate Istomin’s armoury and even the bright, fluorescent orange of the Frenchman’s outfit failed to dazzle the in-form Istomin during the third set. It was he, who had the first chances to break during the fifth game, as Tsonga’s backhand was wayward.  Unfortunately for Istomin, his hope of an early break in the third was to no avail.  The Uzbek’s three breakpoint chances whittled away as Tsonga put into practice his excellent offensive skills at the net to volley away any hopes of an upset by Istomin. The next game of the set saw a lesson being taught by Tsonga, as his heavy overhead smash demonstrated how to convert a breakpoint on the first opportunity.  Moments later, Tsonga stole the next two games securing him the third set 6-2.

Set Four: The Fight for Victory

Tsonga reacted mentally well to the challenge, as he remained resilient during the fourth set. Raising the level of his play during the sixth game, his topspin forehand reigned supreme, as he ran every ball down, slowly disembowelling his opponent’s flailing game.  Squeezed into submission, Istomin had no answer to the stranglehold of the match, as to the delight of the crowd; Tsonga was up 5-2 and welcoming two match point opportunities during the Uzbek’s serve.  Failing to convert both, Tsonga went on to concede his own service game for the match, much to the surprise of the crowd and disgust of Tsonga.

Istomin was intent on clawing his way back into the match and continued to push Tsonga and his patience to the limit during their first round encounter.  The Frenchman continued to implore pressure on Istomin and finally at 6-5, he was able to convert a match point to book his place into the second round.

With a hop, skip and a jump, Tsonga readily accepted the victory with jubilation and relief, after experiencing a battle more intense than he perhaps predicted. It may not have been the most consistent or prettiest of matches for the Frenchman, but a win is a win and he lives to fight another day.

Lisa-Marie Burrows

Twitter: @TennisNewsViews

, , ,

About Lisa-Marie Burrows

Lisa-Marie Burrows has a MA in Sports Broadcast Journalism and is a freelance sports journalist. She has covered many national and international tennis tournaments and has worked in Paris for Eurosport News channel. She is a member of the International Press Association and a journalist for its online magazine, IMPress. She has contributed articles for various leading websites including www.tennisgrandstand.com, www.worldtennismagazine.com, www.tennisbloggers.com, www.tennisscoop.co.uk and www.olympictennis.net. Lisa-Marie operates her tennis website www.tennisnewsviews.com where you can read her reports. She can be reached at lburrows@internationalpress.com or on Twitter @TennisNewsViews.

View all posts by Lisa-Marie Burrows


Subscribe to our RSS feed and social profiles to receive updates.

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: