French Open: 'He made his mark on the sport' – Federer, Djokovic and Nadal pay tribute to 'charismatic' Tsonga

By Sports Desk May 24, 2022

Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal have paid tribute to the "charismatic" Jo-Wilfried Tsonga after the 37-year-old brought his 18-year professional career to a close.

Tsonga, who reached a career-high ranking of world number five in 2012, confirmed in April that he would retire at the culmination of his French Open campaign.

That duly came in the first round on Tuesday as he bowed out to world number eight Casper Ruud 6-7 (6-8) 7-6 (7-4) 6-2 7-6 (7-0).

He retires having won, according to Opta, 464 Tour-level matches since September 2004.

Tsonga is one of just three players, along with Andy Murray and Juan Martin del Potro, to have beaten Nadal, Federer and Djokovic while they were ranked world number one.

He is also one of three players, alongside Stan Wawrinka and Tomas Berdych, who have defeated Nadal, Federer and Djokovic at grand slams.

A video tribute was played on court after his defeat to Ruud, which featured messages from the sport's most iconic players.

Federer said: "I wanted to congratulate you on an amazing career and it was a pleasure to share the court with and play against you, even to lose against you!

"We had some great battles. Enjoy the moment in Paris with all your friends and family, in front of all your adoring spectators."

Djokovic added: "Jo is one of the most charismatic tennis players ever to play the game. I was very happy to share the court with him many times.

"We get along well and he's a really nice guy. He brought a lot of positive attention and popularity to our sport not just because of his dynamic game style, but also his charisma and his personality, so it's a big loss for professional men's tennis to have him retire.

"I wish him all the best, and he definitely should be happy about his career and his achievements. He's made his mark and his legacy in our sport."

Nadal said: "He is very charismatic. I've known him since we were kids; he is a good guy and I think he brings a lot of positive things to our sport so I'm sad to see him going but we are getting old so it's going to happen for everyone."

Speaking at a media conference after his defeat, Tsonga said he would now spend some time relaxing before focusing on the development of his tennis academy.

He said he will miss the adrenaline of playing on court, as well as how he was able to express himself completely when competing.

"It's adrenaline, to step onto a big court like this one," he said. "It's adrenaline you can feel when you have 15,000 people shouting out your name, supporting you on the court.

"This is what I'm going to miss – the contact with the crowd. And with those who have been supporting me for all these years.

"You know, in real life, it's sometimes difficult to be intense. You don't want to shock, you don't want to be too rude, you don't want to hurt somebody.

"You always try to act to be nice, to be sociable. But, you know, on the court, you can express your fever. You can express everything about you, and it's sometimes freeing."

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