“I believe Jo was one of the nicest guys we had in our sport for the past 20 years” – Peers pay tribute to soon-to-retire Tsonga

The charismatic Frenchman has said he will retire after the French Open in Paris later this year

Jo Wilfried Tsonga (Fra) in Montpellier Image Credit: JB Jo Wilfried Tsonga (Fra) in Montpellier Image Credit: JB Autissier / Panoramic

Former world No 5 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga recently announced that he would retire after Roland-Garros in 2022, calling an end to an 18-year long career that saw him reach the Australian Open final and win 18 singles titles.

While the Frenchman was getting ready to take on Marin Cilic in the first round of the Monte-Carlo Masters, several of his peers paid tribute to Tsonga during their press conferences in Monaco.

World No 1 Novak Djokovic, who has a 17-6 record against the charismatic Frenchman on the tour, called Tsonga one of the nicest guys on the tour.

“He has a lot of charisma, a lot of positive energy. I believe Jo was one of the nicest guys we had in our sport for the past 20 years. He was very important for our sport. It’s sad news. But I believe he knows his body perfectly well, and that’s why he made this decision. I wish to him and his family a lot of happiness. I know he has a tennis academy not far from Mr. Mouratoglou’s. I’m sure he will do well once he is retired.”

Stan Wawrinka, who owns a 5-3 edge in his rivalry with the Frenchman, is also someone who knows how difficult it can be to deal with long-term injuries. The Swiss is confident that Tsonga will be fine in his post-career life.

“I know it’s tough, just coming out of an injury, and of course there are many parameters here to be taken into account. There’s your body, there is your motivation. He’s not the first one who is quitting. There was Berdych, Baghdatis before him. A time comes when you’re at the end of your career. He had an incredible career. He was top 5 for many years, he beat all the top players in the world, he had the fans’ dream all over the world. But with what I know, I think he’s feeling good with his decision, and I think he will be all right.”

I hope it won’t happen: Monfils says he does want to face Tsonga

One of Tsonga’s countrymen and closest friends on the tour, Gael Monfils, said that did not want Tsonga to retire and hopes he does not have to take on his compatriot at the French Open.

“Knowing myself, it will be very difficult for me to play against him. It would be very tough for me. I don’t know if I could beat him with my game or if he would beat me, but on my side it might be a match that I’m not going to play well anyway. I hope it won’t happen.”

Monfils, who pulled out of Monte-Carlo due to an injury, hoped to celebrate any time he can get with Tsonga before the end-of-the-season retirement.

“I knew about it because he had told us a little bit before he announced it officially. But even if he told me before, it was not official. When he announced it officially, I sent him a text saying, Oh, my God, that’s real now. Because of course we were talking a lot about it, but he was always telling me it was a secret, and deep inside I don’t really want him to stop, not now.”

“But of course I can understand all the reasons for this decision, this “unfortunate” decision. So what we need to do is celebrate every moment we can spend with him now. Yesterday I practiced with him. Even if my ankle was hurting, I said I need to do that. It’s the last moments that we can have together as players. Of course we are friends for life, but now it’s the last moments as players. It’s tough, because he’s my friend and I am experiencing this as a fan boy. I want to see him play a bit more.”

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