"For a long time, I didn't want to see him": Jo-Wilfried Tsonga opens up on Rafael Nadal hoodoo

Monday, 06 May 2024 at 05:00
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Jo-Wilfried Tsonga reminisced that he "would pray" not to play against Rafael Nadal at the French Open. Despite coinciding with the prime years of the Big-3 during his ATP Tour career, the former world No. 5 was one of the top tennis players of his era, but he couldn't do much when facing Nadal on clay.
Tsonga is one of the players with the best record against the Big-3 with 16 victories combined. The Frenchman achieved six wins against Novak Djokovic, six against Roger Federer, and four against Nadal out of a total of 57 matchups (28%).

The challenge of facing Nadal on clay

The 18-time ATP champion has a particular record of 4-10 against Nadal, with two of those encounters taking place on clay, both resulting in straight-set victories for the Spaniard, in the Davis Cup and at the Monte-Carlo Masters.
Tsonga reached the French Open semifinals twice. He was defeated by David Ferrer in 2013 and Stan Wawrinka in 2015.
Tsonga recently shared an anecdote about how players used to joke about the possibility of facing Nadal at the Philippe-Chatrier and being unable to win games in the early sets: “Everyone wants to see him. I want to see him. For a long time, I didn't want to see him. We want him to go out in the best possible way, on the court fighting like he always did."
"What he did at Roland‐Garros, 15 victories… In fact, I don't even want to talk about it because it's so… Honestly, for me, the biggest challenge in tennis was to face Nadal on clay. It's quite funny, I have a little anecdote about that. Before the draw, we all prayed not to draw him. We said to ourselves: 'Can you imagine, you enter the center court and finally, after two sets, you still haven't won a game,'” he added.

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