Roland-Garros: Tsonga leaves the arena with his head held high

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga threw all his strength into a final losing battle 6-7 (6), 7-6 (4), 6-2, 7-6 (0) against the Norwegian Casper Ruud for his last lap in career.

Roland-Garros: Tsonga leaves the arena with his head held high

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga threw all his strength into a final losing battle 6-7 (6), 7-6 (4), 6-2, 7-6 (0) against the Norwegian Casper Ruud for his last lap in career. One last dance without thumbs up but with honors. A hell of a fight that at times reminded us of the world-class player he was. During a very moving ceremony, where a film retracing the best moments of his career was screened, including tributes from Djokovic, Nadal and even Federer, all his coaches from a young age sporting a "Thank you Jo followed one another to pay tribute to him, as well as his best friends, the three other "new Musketeers" (Monfils, Simon and Gasquet) and all the members of his family.

With a trembling voice, the Frenchman, after drying his tears, then read a long letter of thanks to the public, where he also saw fit to settle a few scores with the media he deemed too critical…

In front of the press, Manceau then summarized: “I struggled with pre-match emotions. I had tears in my eyes before entering the field. Then there was panache, combat and injury against a very solid opponent in front. Being able to have competed against a solid player was the end I wanted, injured or not.

And for the last of the ders, his 705th career game, the Frenchman, who fell to 297th place in the world, had an opponent of choice against him. Casper Ruud, 8th in the world and titled in Geneva last week, a formidable landsman (7 of his 8 titles on this surface). The step was logically too high for Manceau, who had not won a match on earth for three years and who remained on six consecutive defeats... But the warrior fought until the end, becoming again the space of a match this puncher with an explosive forehand and surgical services, to the point of putting the Norwegian on the ropes at the end of the fourth set and serving to pick up two sets everywhere. But, as so often in his career, his body let him down at the worst time. Victim of a right shoulder injury in the eleventh game of the fourth set, and unable to serve normally, he lost 7-0 in the final tie-break. Cruel. "I couldn't serve anymore, with my shoulder loose. But I wanted to go all the way."

“We could hardly do better for one last. I was very afraid that he would make a match that was not like what he wanted to live. We were all surprised at his ability to play at this level. The injury at the end is also part of what he experienced on the circuit”, blows his wife, Noura. “His whole career is summed up in this match, adds Eric Winogradsky, his coach during the Australian epic of 2008 (final lost against Djokovic). He always gave the best of himself. I don't know how he managed to pull off such a match. I am impressed. This shoulder that lets go at the end, it's infuriating. I have a feeling he could create an upset in a fifth set. The physical did not hold, but the head was there.

And it was a Central on fire, full to bursting, who sang a vibrant Marseillaise and greeted the 37-year-old player with a legitimate standing ovation. The former world number 5 will further prolong the Porte d'Auteuil emotion by playing the double with Richard Gasquet, before putting away the rackets.

A chapter in the history of French tennis was definitively closed on Tuesday. That of the best tricolor since Yannick Noah. That of a player with exemplary regularity, 260 weeks in the top 10, and of whom he missed a Grand Slam title to fully enter the legend of French sport. That of an eroded colossus (1.88 m, 91 kg), whose body has been abused throughout his career. "Sugar (his eldest son, 5 years old) is struggling to understand that his dad is no longer going to play. Me too,” smiled his wife. Le Manceau, who has long maintained the hope of succeeding Yannick Noah as winner of a Grand Slam, will have carried French men's tennis at arm's length for fifteen years.

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