Throughout the next four weeks, our What's Next? series will look at every player who finished in the ATP or WTA Top 10 this season, and consider their future in three different ways.
The best player to come out of France since 1983 French Open champion Yannick Noah, Tsonga also is a fair representative of what might be called the “French problem.” In a nutshell, that’s a reference to the inability of a conspicuously gifted string of French players to break through and follow in Noah’s footsteps as a Grand Slam champion.
Tsonga has been in a holding pattern in that regard ever since he made the final of the 2008 Australian Open, where he lost to Novak Djokovic. To his credit, Tsonga established himself as a top player with that run, and he’s been in the mix at or near the top ever since. But he’s failed even to repeat that early-career success.
However, Tsonga does appear to be getting closer. And the more familiar and comfortable he gets as a Grand Slam contender, the better his chances. Last year, he had four match points against Djokovic in the French Open quarterfinals, but just couldn’t close the deal.
Best Case Scenario: Tsonga remains free of injury (always an issue with the big man) and, under the guidance of new coach Roger Rasheed, learns a great deal about shot selection and mental toughness. As a result, he figures out how to finish when he has an Andy Murray or Djokovic on the ropes.
Worst Case Scenario: This is a big, relaxed, easygoing guy. He likes to show his joie de vivre, and he seems to enjoy hamming it up for the crowd. If he continues to play as if being a showman, and earning the oohs-and-aahs of the crowd are more satisfying than grinding out the Ws, even Rasheed’s influence will be wasted.
Australian Open Outlook: Everyone knows that Tsonga went without a formal coach for a surprisingly long time (and it’s not like we’re talking about Roger Federer here). That always sends the signal that the player is looking to make a big move. A former finalist with a new coach and a solid record in Oz spells C-O-N-T-E-N-D-E-R.
More What's Next?
- ATP No. 10, Richard Gasquet
- WTA No. 10, Caroline Wozniacki
- ATP No. 9, Janko Tipsarevic
- WTA No. 9, Sam Stosur
- ATP No. 8, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
- WTA No. 8, Petra Kvitova
- ATP No. 7, Juan Martin del Potro
- WTA No. 7, Li Na
- ATP No. 6, Tomas Berdych
- WTA No. 6, Sara Errani