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.
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