Editor’s Note: ATPTour.com is looking back at some of your favourite players’ breakthrough moments. This story was originally published on 4 August 2019.
It was four days of shock and awe.
Five years ago, at the 2014 Rogers Cup in Toronto, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga produced tennis that equaled or exceeded the best of his career. The Frenchman, then 29, claimed four Top 10 scalps over four consecutive days to win his second – and most recent – ATP Masters 1000 title.
Although Tsonga returns to the ATP Masters 1000 tournament in Montreal next week rather than Toronto, memories of his dramatic run in Canada five years ago will surely give him extra confidence as he looks to continue his steady climb back up the ATP Rankings after his 2018 knee surgery.
“That was amazing for me,” Tsonga said of the title run. “All those guys have given me a hard time in my career. It was tough for me because I came along at the same time as them and they are among the best players in history. To be able to beat them in a row, at one tournament, was a good reward for me.”
Coming into the 2014 Rogers Cup, Tsonga was looking for his first title in almost 18 months (Marseille 2013). His big-tournament lead-in form had been solid – fourth-round defeats to Novak Djokovic at Roland Garros and Wimbledon – but hardly suggestive of what was to come. And it started with a bang against Djokovic, who had won their previous nine matches and 18 sets.
“The win over Djokovic was a little strange because I won 6-2, 6-2. It’s never been like that with him. The win over Andy was the most difficult for me. It was a big match with a lot of intensity that was tight in the third. I was very proud to win that because he’s such a fighter. With Roger I played the perfect final. It was amazing.”
TSONGA’S PATH TO THE 2014 ROGERS CUP TITLE
After beginning 2019 at No. 239 in the ATP Rankings, Tsonga had worked his way back inside the Top 70 coming into this week’s Citi Open in Washington, D.C, helped in large part by winning his 17th title in Montpellier in February.
“That [title] was very emotional because it happened quickly. When I came back last September, I told myself I would give myself a lot of time to play good tennis. I was surprised how quickly it came.
“At this stage of my career the most difficult part of the comeback was to be motivated. Motivation is the main thing in tennis. You need to be 100 per cent to be at the top. When you make so many sacrifices and have had so many good results, and you know that it will take time and additional sacrifice to get back to the top, it can be difficult.
“But I was ready to make the sacrifice to get back on court and give my best.”
Heading into the Coupe Rogers, Tsonga in 2019 boasts an impressive 23-12 record, which includes a three-set win over World No. 8 Karen Khachanov in Washington.
“I’m feeling really good and just happy to be on court again playing good tennis. Hopefully that can continue through the season. I expect to reach my best level.”
DID YOU KNOW
When Tsonga won his first ATP Masters 1000 title in Paris in 2008, he beat three Top 10 players (Djokovic, Roddick and Nalbandian) and World No. 11 Blake.