It is always a joy to watch Jo Wilfried Tsonga on a tennis court.
Tsonga is a perfect blend of modern and old school tennis player. Old school with big serves, serene volleys and chip-n-charge approach.
At the same time, he offers you a flavor of the powerful attacking baseliner of modern tennis who aims for the lines.
Stroke on stroke, he is probably the only player (with the exception of Richard Gasquet), who has the potential to match Roger Federer.
His antics on the court are a pleasure, because they are entertaining, as well as directed only towards himself or the crowd, hence does not offend the opponent.
This is the reason why his second round battle with the Argentine Juan Monaco, who has himself shown a terrific clay court season by defeating the likes of Andy Murray, Marin Cilic and Marcos Baghdatis coming into this match, was a highly anticipated clash.
It is safe to say, that the contest lived up to its expectation, probably more than it, and can be ranked among the best of the tournament so far.
The boxer-look player from France looked a much improved player from his first round victory, as he served consistently well and attacked for most periods of the match, unlike his previous game.
He cheered the French crowd right from the onset of the match, by holding his serve easily and forcing Monaco to net an easy volley, to break the Argentine in his very first service game.
Buoyed by the early break, Tsonga continued attacking Monaco by coming in on most of his first serves, and used drop shots to catch Monaco off-guard. Monaco, on the other hand, was playing a fine match himself after the early wobble, as he gave Tsonga routine scares with perfectly placed lobs.
Fittingly, Monaco leveled the set through a superb forehand winner, only to give it up in the twelfth game, as Tsonga took the first set 7-5. The crowd shared their approval as they loudly cheered Tsonga during his unique celebration.
Monaco, by this time, had started to read Tsonga’s serve, as well as his disguise on the droppers. This resulted in a show of high quality tennis, as Monaco showed his good anticipation and supreme clay movement to offer some unreturnable shots.
Monaco broke Tsonga in the third game of the match, and leveled the match by breaking him once again in the fifth game and finishing off confidently to take the set 6-2.
Tsonga put his second set disaster behind his back and produced one of the most dominating sets of the tournament.
He looked in complete control of the set right from the onset, by serving a barrage of aces and service winners, springing out deft volleys right beneath his legs, and using amazing two-handed lobs as Monaco was left flat-footed at the net.
Such was Tsonga’s dominance, that he hardly lost points on his serve—he was serving magnificently at 91 percent—and showed inspirational returns to break Monaco twice, who himself showed quality serving at 88 percent.
The level of play continued to be superlative, as both players exchanged breaks of serves and the crowd remained on the edge of their seats with some attacking tennis.
The match headed into the tie-breaker, which was a anti-climactic as both rid on unforced errors of the opponent, and Tsonga finally sealed the match at 10-8 after dropping two match points earlier.
He was obviously elated after his match, as he has left his dismal start of the year behind and looks poised to go further. His movement has improved on clay, and so is his serving and volleys.
The Frenchman is back with a bang, as he would feel confident going into the third round with a score of 7-5, 2-6, 6-1, 7-6.
Tsonga now faces Christophe Rochus who overcame the former Australian Open finalist Arnaud Clement in four sets.