Dubai: You get the feeling with Jo-Wilfried Tsonga that his record somehow doesn’t do justice to his talent. A finalist at the Australian Open way back in 2008, with his next best effort being a couple of semi-finals at Wimbledon over the past two years and although he is one of the few active players on the ATP World Tour to have made the quarter-finals at all four Slams, he definitely seems to have fallen short of fulfilling his immense potential, at least till now.
But now the Frenchman has hired Roger Rasheed, the former coach of Lleyton Hewitt in and in an exclusive interview ahead of the men’s week of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championship starting February 25, the 27-year-old tells XPRESS why he hopes the partnership will take him to his first Grand Slam title.
“As always my goal is to perform to my best but I have also centred my priorities around tennis. Hiring a new coach and working at improving some aspects of my game maps the road for me to go and try to win a major,” he said.
The current World No. 8 though is well aware what it would take to actually win one.
“It will obviously take a huge effort as you likely have to beat three out of the four in order to win one Grand Slam,” he said.
Tsonga had yet another taste of how tough is would be, at the quarter-finals of the Australian Open where he lost to World No. 2 Roger Federer in a five-set thriller despite playing close to his best.
“It was a great match and I felt that I had played some of my best tennis there. Unfortunately Roger was better on some key points. This comes from a lot of experience but I feel confident in my level of play and look forward to other great matches,” he said.
The fifth seed in Dubai is also no stranger to the city, as he prepares to line up against the likes of Federer, Novak Djokovic, Tomas Berdych and Juan Martin Del Potro among others.
“This is one of the best tournaments of the season in a great venue. The site is great and there are obviously lots to see and experience in Dubai and I am always keen on playing there,” he said.
And while he may have won nine titles on the Tour, playing for his country always remains a priority as exemplified by his win over Milos Raonic in the longest singles match in terms of the number of games at the London Olympics.
“It is extremely important to play for your country. Whether at the Olympic Games or during a Davis Cup tie I am extremely proud and honored to represent my country. That match will remain in my memory for a long time,” he said.