PARIS “As much as he wanted to avoid tears, Joe Wilfried Tsonga just couldn’t.” And, he said later, he knew it would not. So they swam freely in the final moments of his last match at the French Open, the last singles match in his professional tennis career, and he wiped them with a black bandage on his left wrist.
They were absent because of his right shoulder, which was so painful that he was unable to properly swing the racket to the end of the 6-7 (8), 7-6 (4), 6-2, 7-6 (0) defeat under No. 8 session Casper Ruud on Tuesday in the Philip Shatrie trial. They were there because he knows he finished trying to win matches, did not hear the supportive roars of the spectators, felt the ups and downs of a professional tennis career that ranked 5th, ranked in the 2008 Australian Open final and first France’s Davis Cup title for 16 years, but also a series of injuries.
Since the beginning of 2021 he has been limited to 18 matches, last month turned 37, now he has a family and he knew that this trip to Roland Garros would be the perfect way to say goodbye.
“Today it was pure madness. One of the best atmospheres I’ve seen in my career (for) my last match. I couldn’t ask for anything better, ”Tsonga said. “I couldn’t ask for a better script other than what I could have won.”
He seemed to have a chance to extend the match by making a break and increasing the score to 6-5 in the fourth set. But at the end of that game he tore his shoulder, and that was it. Ruud quickly broke down, and Tsonga was visited by a coach who tried to help the situation but failed. During a three-minute medical timeout, the band in the stands made fans clap and chant “Joe! Joe! ” in the rhythm of a drum, then played “Marseille”, and some of the seats sang the anthem of France.
When the game resumed, Tsonga could barely even pass, hitting the ball at just over 60 miles per hour (100 kilometers per hour) – less than twice as small as the boom he was known for – and even tried to strike with one left hand. as the tie-break ended in suspension. It doesn’t matter. The locals applauded Tsong for a long time while standing, and he approached the net, knelt down and rested his forehead on the ground, creating spots of rusty clay on his face.
Asked later what he would miss the most when he left the sport, he replied: “Adrenaline, stepping on a big court like this. The adrenaline you can feel when 15,000 people shout your name. ”
All this offered the most convincing moments of the 3rd day, which included victories in the first round in the men’s network of the US Open champion Daniil Medvedev, vice-champion of the 2021 French Open Stefanos Tsitsipas, Andrei Rublev at number 7 and number 7. which was 0-6 at Roland Garros.
Danish teenager Holger Rune dropped out with number 14 Denis Shapovalov with a score of 6-3, 6-1, 7-6 (4).
Fourth seeded Tsitsipas missed the first two sets before bypassing Lorenzo Musetti with a score of 5-7, 4-6, 6-2, 6-3, 6-2 on the court of Philippe Chateau, as the calendar flipped from Tuesday to Wednesday and temperatures dropped by about up to 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 degrees Celsius). A year ago in the final against Novak Djokovic, Tsitsipas undermined the advantage in two sets.
Among the women who advanced to the second round were 2017 champion Elena Astapenko, 2018 champion Simona Halep, 7th seed Arina Sobolenko, No. 9 Daniel Collins, No. 11 Jessica Pegula and No. 22 Madison Keys.
Tsonga leaves with 121 victories in Grand Slam matches, a record for the Frenchman. This is a difficult time for tennis in the country of the French Open: for the first time since 1980, there were no men or women from the country who sowed in the tournament.
Another member of Tsonga’s talented generation, Gilles Simon, has said he will resign at the end of the season. Another, Gael Monfils, missed Roland Garros because he needed surgery on his heel – although he was there Tuesday at the post-match Tent Retirement ceremony along with many people who mean so much to Tsonga: other players; a group of his coaches who met when he was a child; his wife and children; his parents.
There were video tributes from four of the greatest male players of the era – Novak Djokovic (who called Tsonga’s resignation “a great loss for professional men’s tennis”), Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Andy Murray, “You were a great ambassador for sports,” he said. Tsonga) – and a series of speeches.
“You have inspired me and many young players around the world,” said Ruud, a 23-year-old from Norway who joked that he missed 10 years when his favorite player, Nadal, lost to Tsonga in an Australian match. Open. “Thank you for all the memories.”
No. 3 seed Paolo Bados, whose 6-2, 6-0 win over Frenchwoman Fiona Ferra after Tsonga against Ruud in the Tent, said she was “super-emotional” watching the whole scene. She later confronted Tsonga when they were giving an interview, and told him jokingly that she was upset that all the noise because of him postponed the start of her match, and then asked him to pose with her for a photo.
What awaits Tsong now? He said that on Wednesday he would have to undergo medical tests on his shoulder, which he said was in a rather bad condition, he could not hold the child.
But Tsonga was proud to have played – well, tried to play – until the end, not to miss the match.
“Unfortunately, I didn’t finish the way I wanted to, but I ended up on the court, playing like my whole career, running after the ball,” Tsonga said. “For me, it was emotional. And anyway, it will remain a good moment in my head. Yes, in a sense, I finished the way I wanted to finish. “
AP sports writer Ken Maguire of London contributed to this report.
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