x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Triumphant Tsonga piles the pressure on Djokovic

Frenchman says he has "nothing to lose" against world's top-ranked player as two of the French Open men's singles quarter-finals will be played tomorrow.

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga beat Stanislas Wawrinka in the fourth round in Paris yesterday. Bernat Armangue / AP Photo
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga beat Stanislas Wawrinka in the fourth round in Paris yesterday. Bernat Armangue / AP Photo

PARIS // Novak Djokovic, the world No 1, and the French favourite Jo-Wilfried Tsonga will both have history on their minds when they clash in the French Open quarter-finals today.

Following his victories in London, New York and Melbourne, the Serb is just three wins away from becoming just the third player in tennis history to hold all four grand slam titles at the same time.

That is something that neither Roger Federer nor Rafael Nadal have achieved to date and it is a feat that also proved unattainable for such past greats as Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi, Bjorn Borg, John McEnroe and Ivan Lendl.

The fifth-seeded Tsonga is bidding to become the first home winner of the men's singles at Roland Garros in 29 years, since Yannick Noah defeated Mats Wilander in the 1983 final.

For the Frenchman the pressure will be greater on Djokovic.

"I think for him it's tougher because he needs to win," he said. "Me, for the moment, you know, I did my best results for the moment, so for me, everything's gonna be positive now.

"Of course, I will be free on the court because I have nothing to lose against this player who is No 1 in the world. And anyway, the pressure will be on him."

The two men have met 10 times and share a 5-5 record, but Tsonga points out that Djokovic has had the upper hand since last year when the Serb's form improved dramatically.

"Back then [before 2011] he was not as good as he is now. He was young. He was very young. I'm two years older than him.

"Since then he's more mature and he plays better. He's improved on all his shots. His forehand is far better than it used to be."

"So it's going to be a very difficult match. But obviously I'll fight like a lion and we'll see the result. I'll do everything I can to make it a difficult match for him."

Today's other quarter-final tie sees Roger Federer, the third seed, against the ninth seed Juan Martin del Potro, two players who have clashed memorably in the past most notably here in the 2009 semi-finals when the Swiss star won a thrilling five-setter.

Later that year, Del Potro turned the tables on Federer winning a five-setter in New York to win the US Open title.

Both occasions remain etched in the memory banks of the big Argentine.

"We played a fantastic match here three years ago, but tomorrow is going to be a different match," he said yesterday.

"He is playing really well and looking to win again here. I need to play an unbelievable match, take all my opportunities 100 per cent, try to play winners with my forehand and my backhand."

"I don't like to run too much so I will look to be aggressive on his game."

Federer leads their head-to-head encounters 11-2 and has won their five last matches.

The remaining two men's quarter-finals will be played tomorrow.

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