Jo-Wilfried Tsonga will make his second appearance at the Barclay’s World Tour Finals, ranked at a career high World No. 6. He is the only Frenchmen to qualify, and in my opinion, one of the more intriguing qualifiers for the year end championships.
Tsonga’s year began with a semifinal appearance at Doha, where he would lose to eventual champion [Roger] Federer. That promising start to his 2011 campaign was followed up with a very disappointing performance at the Australian Open, losing in the third round. Tsonga was a former finalist in Melbourne, and has yet to return to a Grand Slam final.
Tsonga plays a very unique style of tennis, combining his ability to hit a heavy, powerful ball, with variety, that is typical of his French background. When he is playing with confidence he certainly has the ability to beat anyone in the game. Nevertheless, those results have been far and few between because of his inconsistency week in and week out. During the North-American hard court spring, he would lose in the Round of 64 at Indian Wells (l. to Malisse), and in the Round of 32 in Miami (l. to Dolgopolov).
He would carry the poor performance on the hard courts, over to the European Clay season, entering in five tournaments overall, and posting a very middle of the pack 6-5 match record, never advancing past the Round of 32 at any of the clay events. That includes yet another early exit at Roland Garros, in front of his home crowd.
As the season switched to grass, a light bulb must have turned on inside the head of Tsonga. His grass court performances were very impressive with a finals appearance at the Queen’s Club and a very impressive semifinal showing at Wimbledon, having to come back from two sets down in the quarterfinals against Federer to advance.
As the year progressed his results seemed to become more consistent. His run to the semifinal at the Montreal Masters marked a second consecutive victory over Federer. Tsonga would return to World No. 10 for the first time in almost exactly a year.
At the 2011 US Open, he would get to the quarterfinals before being beaten by a revengeful Federer.
Post US Open, Tsonga would go on to win his only two titles of 2011, at Metz and Vienna, and kept the momentum going with a finals appearance at the Paris Masters. He would again face an in form Federer, who would deny the Frenchmen a title in front of the home crowd.
Tsonga is a legitimate threat at the Barclay’s World Tour Finals, and could make life difficult for his group. He will face Federer yet again, on Sunday, in a rematch of the Paris Masters Final.
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