Tsonga out to solve Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships mystery
The Frenchman has thrilled crowds around the world with his spectacular play and, over the years, reached the final of the Australian Open, the semi-finals of both the French Open and Wimbledon and the quarter-finals of the US Open.
But he has so far been unable to replicate that success here in Dubai.
In the first round last year he fell to fellow Frenchman Michael Llodra, while in his two previous appearances he lost in the second round in 2010 to Ivan Ljubicic and in 2012 to Juan Martin del Potro in the quarter-finals.
“Jo-Wilfried Tsonga has long been one of the most gifted and entertaining players on the ATP World Tour,” said Colm McLoughlin, Executive Vice-Chairman of tournament owners and organisers Dubai Duty Free. “Few realise that he is the only player to have defeated all of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray at the Grand Slams, a quite remarkable achievement.
“It is a mystery why he has not so far been able to repeat that success here at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, and it will be intriguing to see if this year he can finally justify his unquestionable talent and become the 2014 champion.”
The signs are good that he can excel in Dubai after his positive start to the 2014 season.
First, he teamed up with Alize Cornet to win the Hopman Cup for France over Poland in the final of the mixed team competition.
Then, after losing a close-fought Australian Open fourth-round battle against five-time Dubai champion Roger Federer, he helped France to a crushing Davis Cup victory over Australia.
“I was always in good shape when I came to Australia, because before that you have time to fix, you know, every injury,” he said. “You have time to fix your game. You have time to work on your fitness.”
His success so far this season follows on from what the laidback and charismatic Frenchman achieved in 2013.
Victory in Marseille, when he saved match points in two different matches during the tournament, was followed by Roland Garros in May, when he narrowly failed in his quest to become the first Frenchman to reach the French Open final since Henri Leconte in 1988 when he lost in the semi-finals to David Ferrer.
Although he had to withdraw from the US Open with a knee injury suffered during Wimbledon, he rebounded by reaching the Metz final, and he went on to reach the semi-finals of the ATP Tour Masters 1000 event in Shanghai.
At the end of October he came as close as it gets to qualifying for the ATP Tour World Finals when he squandered two match points in a 7-6 (9-7) third-set loss to Kei Nishikori in Paris, which ended his challenge for a spot in London.
“Tsonga will face a tough challenge from a world-class field, but is more than capable of taking on all comers” said Tournament Director Salah Tahlak. “He is a wonderfully entertaining player and we are looking forward to seeing him in action again next week.”
The men’s field also includes four other members of the top 10, including five-time title-holder Roger Federer, four-time champion and 2013 winner Novak Djokovic, recent Australian Open semi-finalist Tomas Berdych and former US Open winner, Dubai two-time semi-finalist and recent Sydney champion Juan Martin Del Potro.
Play in the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships begins with the WTA event, which takes place between February 17 and 22 and features six of the world’s top 10.
These are defending champion Petra Kvitova, former winners Caroline Wozniacki and Agnieszka Radwanska, 2011 US Open winner Samantha Stosur and Serbian former world No 1s Ana Ivanovic and Jelena Jankovic.
Play then continues between February 24 and March 1 with the ATP tournament.
The Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships are owned and organised by Dubai Duty Free and held under the patronage of His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.
Tickets for the event are on sale from the box office at the Dubai Tennis Stadium, Garhoud, which is open from 9am to 9pm daily.
Grandstand ticket prices range from Dh75 for opening rounds to Dh500 for finals, with season tickets also available.
For further information about tickets, prices and the tournament, visit dubaidutyfreetennischampionships.com or phone the call centre on 044172415.