Jo-Wilfried Tsonga captured a title and a bit of history Sunday, defeating Roger Federer in straight sets to become the first Frenchman to win the Rogers Cup in the Open Era.
The 15th-ranked Tsonga entered this event having not defeated a top-10 player all season. To reach Sunday’s final, he had to dispatch top-ranked Novak Djokovic, No. 9 Andy Murray, and No. 8 Grigor Dimitrov. Then he upended No. 3 Federer, 7-5, 7-6 (3), in 1 hour 47 minutes. The string of victories made him the first player to defeat four straight top-10 opponents at a Masters 1000 tournament since Guillermo Cañas did so in 2002, also at the Rogers Cup.
Tsonga, 29, is the first Frenchman to win the tournament since I. F. Hellmuth won the inaugural event in 1881. “I think for the moment, I don’t realize what I achieved this week, but it’s a big achievement for me,” Tsonga said.
After a shaky start, the pace of the match picked up late in the first set. With Tsonga serving at 5-5, Federer dropped a shot that Tsonga could not reach. But Tsonga was able to rely on his serve to put the pressure back on Federer.
Federer struggled in the final game of the set, sending two shots long to fall to 15-30. He pulled even with a winner but pushed a low shot —- which was unsuccessfully challenged — wide, setting up the first break point of the set. Federer then put a return well long to give Tsonga the first set. “I think it was the overall day conditions that were tough for me,” Federer said of the hardcourt. “It was faster than in the night, all my previous matches, so I think the turnaround was tough.”
Tsonga carried the momentum from the first set into the second and had a break-point chance with a 3-2 lead. But Federer answered with an ace and fought back for the hold. Tsonga had a chance to take a 4-3 edge in the second set and a double-break point, but Federer replied with two straight points to get to deuce.
In the tiebreaker, Tsonga battled his way to 4-3, then finished off Federer with three straight points for the win. “There is no secret,” said Tsonga, whose winner’s share was $598,900. “People maybe see that as a one-shot, but behind it there is a lot of work. I’ve been waiting for this since a couple of months; I was looking for my best level, and today I had it.”]
With the win, Tsonga will move back into the top 10 in the ATP rankings for the first time since March 10.
RADWANSKA BEATS WILLIAMS
Montreal: Agnieszka Radwanska beat Venus Williams 6-4, 6-2, to win the women’s title of the Rogers Cup in Montreal. The third-seeded Radwanska, the first Rogers Cup champion from Poland, picked up her first tournament victory of the year and the $441,000 winner’s prize. Williams, 34, earned $220,000.
Radwanska, 25, used her relentless baseline game to dominate a tired-looking Williams, who was coming off an emotional three-set victory over her top-ranked sister, Serena Williams, in a semifinal on Saturday. “I think I was playing much better every match,” Radwanska said. “I didn’t start that well from my first match, but every match was much better.”
Ranked fifth in the world to Williams’s 26th, Radwanska posted her first Rogers Cup win after twice reaching the semifinals. It was her first tournament victory since the 2013 Korea Open in Seoul.
Radwanska shot off to a 4-1 lead, but Williams answered with a break that brought the fans to their feet. Radwanska hit a drop shot, Williams dropped back, Radwanska hit a lob and Williams got back in time to win the point with a cross-court smash. Radwanska settled down to finish the set and opened the second set with a service break. After Williams broke to tie it at 2-2, she gave the break to Radwanska with a pair of double faults. Radwanska cruised the rest of the way, punctuating her victory with an ace on match point.Williams, a seven-time Grand Slam winner, had an excellent week that will likely put her back into the world top-20 on Monday. Her performance included wins over sixth-seeded Angelique Kerber and 14th-seeded Carla Suárez Navarro. Williams fell short in her bid to become the event’s oldest champion. Martina Navratilova won 52 days short of her 33rd birthday in 1989.