The ATP Tour has its first champion of the season and it is only fitting that it would be a top 10 player. As the surprises came yesterday (the walkover of Roger Federer and the loss of Rafael Nadal), it was only fitting that the one to take the first title of the season would be Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, the logical choice to win the Qatar ExxonMobil Open title.
The World no 6 defeated Gaël Monfils in an all-French final (players and even umpire Cédric Mourier), 7-5 6-3, to claim his 8th career title.
However, the match was a very risky one, as it was played in tricky misty conditions, which made the lines slippery and could’ve caused serious injuries to both players, who tripped, slipped and even fell throughout the whole match. They even had to suspend the match for nearly an hour after the first game because it was far too dangerous for the players to keep going.
Fortunately, there was no harm done to either player and even though he was trailing by a break until Monfils attempted to serve out the first set, Tsonga proved the better of the two. Monfils did not play a bad match, per say, but he was not as incisive as against Rafael Nadal in the semi-finals, one of the best performances I’ve seen from La Monf in a while.
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Heavy favourite for Melbourne? Not so fast!
After the match, many put Tsonga a heavy favourite for the upcoming Australian Open, which begins in about a week from now, but as much as I think he does have a shot at the title, I would not, as some have said, put him in front of any of the top 4 players, not even Andy Murray.
In my mind, Murray remains the favourite to win his maiden Grand Slam title this year in the men’s field. For one, the Scot has more consistency in the Slams than the Frenchman (remember he’s had a Grand Slam of semis – or better – last year, for instance). So I cannot, in all consciousness, put Tsonga ahead of Murray in the favourites for the Australian Open, or for any other Slam for that matter. Time will tell, I guess.
Nevertheless, Tsonga is very impressive and even more so since he’s flying coachless. A very worthy first winner of the season!