Should Jo-Wilfried Tsonga have won at least one Grand Slam title during his career?
The former world No. 5 is retiring from tennis at the age of 37 following his defeat to Casper Ruud at the French Open.
Tsonga made the final of the 2008 Australian Open and twice made the semi-finals at the French Open and Wimbledon.
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But with Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray around he wasn’t able to end France’s long wait for a male Grand Slam champion, which dates back to 1983.
“The three other guys [Federer, Nadal, Djokovic], that was the issue for everyone,” said seven-time Grand Slam champion John McEnroe on Eurosport.
“Whether it was [Gael] Monfils, who was next to him at the ceremony after the match, you can go down the list of players who could and would have won Slams, but these three have been the greatest ever.
“They are incredible tennis players and they also psyche these guys out. They are three of the all-time great athletes and Jo was a little bit below that and that cost him against them.
“Sure he could have won one with a little bit of luck and so could Monfils and some other guys but those guys are very selfish and stingy!”
Tsonga won 18 titles in his career and finished with 467 tour-level wins.
He made his breakthrough at the 2008 Australian Open when he beat Murray in the first round and then shocked Nadal in straight sets in the semi-finals before losing to Djokovic in the final.
Mats Wilander recalls being wowed by Tsonga’s performance in Melbourne.
“When I saw him reach the Australian Open final in 2008, beating Nadal in the semi-finals playing unbelievably aggressive tennis, and then winning the first set against Djokovic in the final, it was tennis I hadn’t really seen before.
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“He was hitting the ball so hard and heavy from both sides and he is such a strong guy. I couldn’t understand why he didn’t win a Slam in the next couple of years, but now of course after 15 years of seeing the Big Three there are a lot of great players who haven’t won a Slam in this generation.”
Wilander also said Tsonga’s backhand may have prevented him from winning a major.
“You have to maximise your potential and if there is one area with Tsonga it was the two-handed backhand that wasn’t good enough to stay with the Big Three or Big Four. Technically it was the backhand because everything else was at the top level.”
One of Tsonga’s most memorable tournament wins was in Toronto in 2014 when he beat four top-10 players over consecutive days.
He ousted Djokovic, Murray, Grigor Dimitrov and Federer to lift the title in stunning fashion.
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Tsonga was also involved in several memorable matches with Murray at Wimbledon.
“Success is about maximising your potential and you see how committed he was and everything he put into his game,” said former British No. 1 Tim Henman.
“He has got some fantastic achievements in his career, but the era he played in those three were better than him and better than everyone. I think he will look back and be very satisfied with everything he achieved.”
Federer, Nadal, Djokovic and Murray all paid tribute to Tsonga in a video that was shown on Court Philippe Chatrier after his final match.
Murray said: “Hey Jo, I just wanted to send you a message to wish you a happy retirement and to congratulate you on an amazing career.
“You’ve achieved so much, with so many highlights. You’ve been a great ambassador for the sport; I’ve always loved watching you play and competing against you, and you’ll be sorely missed. All the best, mate.”
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