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Jo-Wilfried Tsonga Blasts Winners Past Mardy Fish to Secure 1st Win in London

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 22:  Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France celebrates after he won the men's singles round match against Mardy Fish of USA during the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals at the O2 Arena on November 22, 2011 in London, England.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Julian Finney/Getty Images
AndersCorrespondent IIINovember 22, 2011

The score was 7-6 (4), 6-1, but what was more telling was the forehand and backhand winners. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga led Fish 9-4 in forehand winners and 7-1 in backhand winners.

The big Frenchman essentially imposed his game on Fish, who withstood the pressure for a set but couldn’t fight back in the second. Overall, Tsonga made 33 winners to 21 unforced errors, while Fish was 18-16.

With two big servers, the first set ending in a tiebreak was hardly a surprise. What was surprising, though, was that the match started with three breaks of serve, two from Tsonga and one from Fish, before each held serve until Tsonga was serving for the set.

Tsonga earned the first break of the match on an amazing Sampras-like running forehand pass that curled round of Fish, who stood waiting at the net. The flashy Frenchman came up with some amazing shots throughout the match, but this was definitely one of his best.

However, as he was serving for the first set, he essentially gifted Fish the break with three loose errors and a perfect Fish lob.

Neither of them had any trouble holding their serve from five-all to make it to the deciding tiebreak. Here, Fish missed a cross-court forehand by an inch or two, and that mini-break was all Tsonga needed to serve it out.

While the first set was close, there was hardly any doubt in the second, as Tsonga raised his level to new heights and Fish dropped his.

Tsonga was amazing on return and won an astonishing 80 percent on Fish’s first serves in the second set. At times, he would make a clean return passing shot by the serve and volleying Fish. Tsonga also won the ball all six times he ventured to the net, with smash dunks and deft volleys included.

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 22:  Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France returns the ball during the men's singles round match against Mardy Fish of USA during the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals at the O2 Arena on November 22, 2011 in London, England.  (Photo by Cliv
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

But the best shot of the match was maybe when Tsonga was on his way to break Fish for a 5-1 lead.

Fish had Tsonga on the ropes with a big cross-court forehand. Tsonga, running more backwards than sideways, somehow not only got to it, but managed to send a cross-court passing winner of his own past a stunned Fish at the net.

Asked in his on-court interview after the match whether the second set was as good as he could play, Tsonga replied: “I promise to play better in the next match."

If he lives up to that promise, Rafael Nadal will have something to worry about come Thursday.

For Mardy Fish, things look more bleak, as he is almost out of the tournament with two loses.

Nevertheless, the American has proved he belongs in this company by almost beating Rafa on Sunday and taking Tsonga to the tiebreak in the first set. 

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