Tsonga is mzansi ace
He blew into the country a week ago amid extreme expectations and Frenchman Jo-Wiffriend Tsonga fulfilled all of them yesterday as he conquered compatriot Jeremy Chardy 6-4, 7-6.
Tsonga won the South African Tennis Open, which kicked off at Montecasino in Johannesburg last Monday, bringing back big time tennis to these shores for the first time in 13 years.
As the top seed raised the kudu horn trophy triumphantly, Chardy knew that he gave as good as he got, matching Tsonga pound for pound where power and slugging it off from the baseline were called for.
It was in finesse and craftsmanship in placing shots that Chardy, who also garnered a lot of support from spectators, faltered.
Watched by an adoring crowd at the centre court, Tsonga kicked off the first game of the opening set with a double fault.
But as he had done all week, he regained his composure to finish off the set at 6-4, taking full advantage of his powerful serve game.
But the second set saw a brave fightback from Chardy who had disposed of second seed, Spaniard David Ferrer in the semi-final. The match had to be decided by a tie break, and Tsonga won that.
The amiable Tsonga, who is on his way to Rotterdam for his next tournament, again expressed his delight at the support he got from locals and he promised to come back here to play.
"It was really tough to win especially with the altitude. I have no regrets - I was first seed here and I did it! I won," said Tsonga, who took home $75000 (about R750 000) for his troubles.
l Flavia Pennetta swept Italy past France and into the Fed Cup semi-finals by defeating Alize Cornet 6-2, 6-2 in Orleans, France yesterday.
The Italians were already 2-0 up after winning both of the opening singles on Saturday and there was a huge gap in experience between the veteran Pennetta. the world No.11 - additional reporting by Sapa-AFP