Sports, Tennis

Tsonga retires after French Open defeat

By Reuters
Published : 25 May 2022 08:25 PM

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga gave Norway's eighth-seeded Casper Ruud a run for his money in a tight French Open first round battle but predictably headed into a tear-jerking retirement with a 6-7(6), 7-6(4), 6-2, 7-6(0) defeat on Tuesday.

The Frenchman, whose career had been hampered by multiple injuries in recent years, fought for almost four hours before bowing out in tears. The court Philippe Chatrier crowd gave him a standing ovation as the 37-year-old knelt on the red dirt after being unable to put up more of a fight because of shoulder pain.

It was the latest in a series of physical problems that saw the former world number five drop to 297 in the ATP rankings.

Tsonga, one of only three men to beat Rafael Nadal, Novak Dokovic and Roger Federer when each was world number one and an Australian Open runner-up in 2008, had not won a match on clay in almost three years and there was no miracle on Tuesday - albeit a lot of hope after a solid opening set.

The match started in front of a sparse crowd as most of the corporate seats were empty around lunch time, a recurring pattern at Roland Garros where the food often trumps tennis.

Tsonga held firm, delighting fans with some well-executed drop shots as he made the most of his opponent's early nerves.

The volume finally increased as the stands filled up after coffee time and Tsonga bagged the opening set following a tense tiebreak.

He saved break points in the fifth game of the second set but yielded under pressure in the tiebreak and it appeared he would bow out quickly after being overwhelmed in the third.

Backed by a buoyant crowd, however, Tsonga broke to love for 6-5 in the fourth, only for Ruud to level and force another tiebreak.