Tsonga takes advantage of Federer's 'sh---y day'

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA) claimed his first Rogers Cup title on Sunday in Toronto, beating Roger...

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA) claimed his first Rogers Cup title on Sunday in Toronto, beating Roger Federer in straight sets. (Peter Llewellyn-USA TODAY Sports)

IAN SHANTZ, QMI AGENCY

, Last Updated: 8:19 PM ET

TORONTO - Jo-Wilfried Tsonga dropped his head into his hands, then pointed to the sky and let out a thousand-watt grin.

His opponent, Roger Federer, had just fed a backhander into the net — yet another mishit on the day by a player who rarely makes errors.

It was over, and Tsonga knew it.

He had won the Rogers Cup — for the first time.

On a sunny Sunday afternoon in Toronto, he had taken down another giant.

"I knew I was able to play great tennis, but maybe not like this, this week," the Frenchman said before collecting his winner’s trophy and a cheque for $598,000 on the stadium showcourt at the Rexall Centre.

Indeed, Tsonga caught a lot of people off guard, including himself.

And Federer, of course.

With yet another upset over a top-10 opponent — this time in two sets, 7-5, 7-6 (3) — Tsonga was crowned champion, becoming the first man from France to win the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event in Canada.

Earlier, he knocked off top seed Novak Djokovic in straight sets, then world No. 9 Andy Murray in three sets, then world No. 8 Grigor Dimitrov in three sets.

Tsonga, ranked 15th in the world going in and seeded 13th in Toronto, didn't need to extend himself against the Swiss great, completing his takedown of Federer in one hour, 47 minutes.

It was a mini stunner of sorts, with Federer looking increasingly better each day coming into the final and seemingly poised to collect his 80th career ATP title and third Rogers Cup.

That scenario started to crumble once the guy from LeMans with the heavy serve and dangerous forehand got going.

Tsonga entered the day as the tournament's ace leader with 66. Backed by that huge serve, he was once again able to put an opponent on the defensive, this time taking away Federer's creative ways, fluid groundstrokes and, at times, his backhander.

Tsonga finished with 11 aces and 93% efficiency in first service points won, while Federer was simply unable to break his opponent, or get into his rhythm for that matter.

"Today was just difficult in terms of rhythm from the baseline," said Federer, who was returning to the hard court after his runner-up finish at Wimbledon last month. "It was like a new tournament for me today."

It was not that way for Tsonga, whose consistency throughout the week paved the way to him winning the second Masters 1000 title of his career.

Tsonga — who has never won a Grand Slam — had the 17-time Grand Slam winner fighting for every point, dictating the play throughout and forcing the 33-year-old Federer to come to the net.

"You know, I think for the moment, you know, I don't realize really what I achieved this week, but it's a big achievement for me," Tsonga said. "I played well all this week. I beat many good guys. You know, it's a big achievement."

Federer, the world No. 3 came in with an 11-4 lifetime record against Tsonga, who last beat him at the 2013 French Open.

But Tsonga, after failing to convert on six break opportunities in the second set, walked away with it in the second-set tiebreak, going up a mini-break and not looking back.

Tsonga got his serve going early. His biggest weapon reached speeds of more than 220 km/h and three consecutive cannons gave him points in the ninth game of the opening set before the Frenchman finally got his lone break in the 12th game, Federer sailing one wide to give his opponent a 6-5 lead, allowing him to serve out the set.

That opening set wasn't overly inspiring for either player, however. Both showed flashes of brilliance, but an equal number of miscues.

Federer struggled to find his groove, finishing with 15 unforced errors in the opening set, including a handful of returns into the net and an unlucky roll off the net tape on the third point of the third game.

It's not to suggest Federer was not up to his usual tricks at times, including a mesmerizing drop shot at the net out of his opponent's reach.

But the shots fans have come to expect from Federer were few and far between on the afternoon.

"I definitely felt further away from victory than he did," Federer said. "I mean, naturally because of the scoreline, I mean, he was in the lead, but I just didn't feel like I was playing good enough to win today. It was just really frustrating the way I felt out there."

Tsonga, meanwhile, was not flawless. But despite winning fewer than half of his first-serve points in the opening set, he had more to offer than Federer when it mattered most.

"You continue to believe in it. Even if, you know, people around you say you're not able to do it, you believe in it," Tsonga said. "And when you believe in something, you know, it makes it sometimes possible."

A candid moment arrived when a reporter asked Federer some dizzying question about his psychological preparation for the match.

"You can be as nervous as you want to be," Federer said. "If you can't hit forehands or whatever, it's just, like — it wasn't my day, man. It was just a sh---y day."

Not so much for Tsonga, who became the first player in 12 years to beat four top-10 players in a single Masters 1000 event.

Bruno Soares of Brazil and Alexander Peya of Austria successfully defended their Rogers Cup doubles title, beating Ivan Dodig of Croatia and Marcelo Melo of Brazil, 6-4, 6-3.

ian.shantz@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/IanShantz

 


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