HEY JO: WHERE YOU GONNA RUN TO NOW?

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HEY JO: WHERE YOU GONNA RUN TO NOW?

Post by MMT1 on Sun 20 Mar 2016, 12:02 am

Wasn't there a time when Jo-Wilfried Tsonga had Djokovic's number?  Does anybody remember that?  I sure as hell do.  In fact, because he appeared to freeze in the headlights in Australia in 2008, the subsequent ease with which he dispensed with his two years' junior rival in 5 of the next 6 encounters over the next two years, left me with the sneaking suspicion that the result in Melbourne had in fact been a fluke...

...He's gotten some good results here and there, but only ever made it as far as the semi-finals 5 times in the last 32 majors since his maiden final.  He's won 2 masters shields in his career:  the aforementioned emotional victory in Paris in 2008 and a curiously gritty victory over Federer in Toronto two years ago (one of five over the Swiss GOAT).  Now all of this would be considered a good career for a slightly above average player, but Tsonga...Tsonga deigned to be so much more...

...Everything in his game is well above average, but everything seems to be missing just that little something.  The forehand, powerful as it can be, is produced rather convolutedly, and in my opinion breaks down when it absolutely can't.  His first serve, flamethrower that it is, usually only leaves enough left in the tank for the second serve to light a cigarette...or a joint.  And his backhand, varied and beautiful as it can be, has to be hit so far behind the baseline, because of his forehand, it is too easily isolated and picked on, like the one kid on the sandlot baseball team that you just know has to play right field.  Why?  Because....

...But above all, the French love beauty, and it is because they love beauty that they love tennis.  They don't like players who take themselves too seriously, but despite this they absolutely loved watching John McEnroe precisely because his game was so beautiful to behold...

...They want to see something so beautiful that they're inspired.  They want the jeu de paumes to be a game of hands again.  They love Roger Federer because he's not Nadal - he is, in fact, the antithesis of Nadal.  His game isn't beautifully effective: it's effective because it's beautiful.  And isn't that, after all, the point?  Nobody goes to a bullfight to see who will win - they go to see the bloody, gory spectacle of courage and skill...

...Well, I have the feeling that Tsonga's concept of the game is just a little too beautiful.  He floats and stings, but neither can overwhelm the more pedantic, and imminently more effective games of his contemporaries, or the Swiss Mister to whom he would be supplicant.  In one point, his backhand volley drops lovingly 24 inches into his opponent's court, and in the next, it lands 24 inches short of his own net.  The exuberance with which we celebrate the former is followed by the exasperation with which we decry the latter: such is the metaphor of his game.  How else can you explain the inexplicable experiment with the occasional one-handed backhand, other than the undeniable aesthetic appeal of that particular shot?

...There is something impressive about someone who won't sacrifice the beauty in their chosen field of endeavor at the altar of efficacy, but there is also something tragic.  A little bit like a Hollywood starlet, well past her due date, that won't go out of the house without her make-up.  Admirable...but also a little pathetic.  I have to admit that I have a lot of sympathy for Tsonga, and a lot of patience for all the little things he does to entertain, but no more time for the all the more things he doesn't do to fulfill his capacity...

Read the rest...

http://tennis-column.blogspot.com/2016/03/hey-jo-where-you-gonna-run-to-now.html


Last edited by MMT1 on Sun 20 Mar 2016, 12:26 am; edited 1 time in total
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Re: HEY JO: WHERE YOU GONNA RUN TO NOW?

Post by Henman Bill on Sun 20 Mar 2016, 12:17 am

Thanks to this. It's nice to see articles about players outside the big 4.

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Re: HEY JO: WHERE YOU GONNA RUN TO NOW?

Post by Guest on Sun 20 Mar 2016, 12:37 am

Who's Jo? Oh yes I remember. Good second tier player within the top ten, along with Berdych. These type of players may have obtained a slam or two in the past, but not in the era of the ultra consistent top tier players. I think he has more or less maxed out on his potential. A multi-millionaire and French celebrity - he has been well rewarded. I think Wawrinka was in his category but managed to bridge the gap with a lot of hard work and commitment. Ferrer has also maxed out on his ability and been well rewarded for it - he doesn't quite have the weapons to challenge the top tier. Maybe things will change post Djokovic. Federer and Nadal seem to be much less than what they once were. If Jo Wilfred Tsonga still has his fitness and strength - now is the time to grab himself a slam - but it seems beyond him.

ps Good article.

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Re: HEY JO: WHERE YOU GONNA RUN TO NOW?

Post by socal1976 on Sun 20 Mar 2016, 6:36 pm

The only time JO had Djokovic's number was during Novak 09-10 serve experiment where Novak was playing Tsonga a number of times literally with a WTA serve. He had the same problem against big servers like Roddick and even lost to Berdych during that period. Its hard to beat guys with a big serve when you are double faulting twice as much as hitting aces and just gifting breaks. Early in Djokovic's career 07-08 he didn't have an edge. As soon as Novak worked out his serve he switched the losses to win streaks against those types of players.

Tsonga is not above average in every area if measured against the avg ATP top pro. He is too heavy and is not fit enough, and his size puts pressure on his joints and muscles which has resulted in durability and injury problems. Also his backhand is pretty average. He can hit big shots with it, he is a big guy but it breaks down.

Otherwise it is a good article and nice read.

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Re: HEY JO: WHERE YOU GONNA RUN TO NOW?

Post by MMT1 on Wed 23 Mar 2016, 7:06 pm

Not to belabor it, but they don't appear to have played prior to 2008 and Tsonga won 3 of 4 that year. I'm sure he would have traded the wins for the one loss, but nevertheless...
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Re: HEY JO: WHERE YOU GONNA RUN TO NOW?

Post by MMT1 on Wed 23 Mar 2016, 7:06 pm

http://www.atpworldtour.com/en/players/fedex-head-2-head/novak-djokovic-vs-jo-wilfried-tsonga/D643/T786
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Re: HEY JO: WHERE YOU GONNA RUN TO NOW?

Post by Henman Bill on Thu 24 Mar 2016, 1:12 am

Looking at the head to head, a part of the explanation could be indoor vs outdoor. Jo was picking up the ones indoor. Novak wasn't the same player back then, at least not indoor, some indoor courts may have been a notch faster than now, and Jo could hit through him. They were also wins at minor tournaments that are more about practice (you could arguably include Paris as a minor tournament, at least in those years, it was the weakest masters for focus of top players).

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