Tennis News - Roland Garros - French Open 2016

Can Tsonga End 33-year Wait for French Champion at Roland Garros


Tsonga by romanboed, on Flickr

"Tsonga" (CC BY 2.0) by  romanboed 

Thirty three years have passed since a Frenchman was crowned French Open champion at Roland Garros.

Yannick Noah was the last man to triumph for the host nation in 1983 when he defeated Sweden’s Mats Wilander in straight sets in the final, winning the only Grand Slam of his career.

Since then only Henri Leconte has managed to reach the final of the competition, only to be beaten by Wilander in 1988.
The struggle has not quite reach the standard of Britain’s 77-year wait for a men’s champion at Wimbledon, but French people will be hopeful that the drought ends in the near future.

Jo Wilfried-Tsonga looks to be the best chance to end the wait for a Frenchman to secure the title at Roland Garros.
The Frenchman has betting odds of 40/1 to get over the hump and win the French Open, meaning he will have to put together the best seven matches of his career to clinch his first Grand Slam.

He has all the attributes needed to be a top player on the world circuit, but he has not been able to put his form together to make a strong run for a major title.

He has also been unfortunate to play in the era where the top four players have held the monopoly over the Grand Slams as Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic have all prevented him from breaking through.

The world number nine has come close on several occasions to breaking his Grand Slam duck, reaching the final at the Australian Open in 2008, only to be defeated by Djokovic.

His best chance of advancing to the final at Roland Garros came in 2013, but lost to Spain’s David Ferrer in straight sets, spurning the opportunity to compete for the crown.

Tsonga reached the last four again last year, but ran into Stanislas Wawrinka in prime form as the Swiss brushed him aside before defeating Djokovic in the final.

At age 30, the Frenchman is reaching the point in his career when he may have fewer chances to push into the latter stages of Grand Slams, making a surge this year at Roland Garros essential for his and his country’s hopes of ending the drought.

Tsonga’s form this year has been underwhelming and included premature exits at the Australia Open and ATP events at Indian Wells, Buenos Aires and Rio de Janeiro.

Wimbledon 2012 Day 10 by Kat Shann, on Flickr

"Wimbledon 2012 Day 10" (CC BY-SA 2.0) by  Kat Shann 

However, players have come from nowhere to stun the world at a major tournament before, and the 30-year-old can be inspired by the action of Goran Ivanisevic at Wimbledon in 2001.

The Croatian must have thought his chances to win a Grand Slam were behind him, having been defeated three times in the final at the All England Club.

As a wildcard entry Ivanisevic shocked the world to clinch the title, beating Britain’s Tim Henman in the semis before overcoming Pat Rafter in a five-set thriller in the final.

Tsonga has more talent at this stage of his career than the Croatian did all those years ago, which means he is more than capable of producing a similar run to glory.



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