After Tsonga’s marathon match in R2 against Milos Raonic yesterday, which he won 25-23 in the deciding set, tennis observers would have been well-justified to suspect that Tsonga would not be able to withstand the pressure of another match against a formidable, if not always consistent, opponent in Feliciano Lopez.
However, Tsonga quickly dispelled such concerns, even as he played a close match against the no. 29-ranked Felicano Lopez of Spain, who only earned his entrance into the Olympics singles competition after no. 2-ranked Rafael Nadal withdrew from his gold-medal defense with a knee injury. In just over an hour, Tsonga defeated Lopez in straight sets to move into the QF, where he will play 2nd seed Novak Djokovic.
Both Tsonga and Lopez played an impressive and clean match — Lopez is known for his strength on the grass surface at Wimbledon, as evidenced by his reaching the QF at Wimbledon in 2011. However, Tsonga is also a player with stronger grass court credentials and the Frenchman’s ability to generate winners off both wings proved to be the difference. Tsonga hit 6 backhand winners in the match, compared to zero for Lopez, while he was able to hit 11 forehand winners to Lopez’s 2 for the match.
Lopez’s weaker second serve provided the opportunity that Tsonga needed to win the first-set TB 7-5. From there, Tsonga stayed patient in his rallies against the crafty Spaniard, to go up 4*-3 in the second set. Quite impressively, Tsonga never had to face BP on his serve, while he managed a 1/3 conversion rate on Lopez’s serve. He closed out the match at 6-4.
Tsonga has had an impressive Olympics showing this year, as he has reached the QF in both singles and doubles (with compatriot Michael Llodra). His QF match against Djokovic will provide a chance for Tsonga to exact his revenge for the extremely close QF he lost to the Serbian at Roland Garros this year.