No one had a better week in Toronto than Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. The Frenchman became the first male singles player from his country to lift the Rogers Cup title in the tournament’s illustrious 133 year history. Following his second career Masters 1000 title, Tsonga will look to maintain that momentum this week in Cincinnati when he begins his campaign in the first round against Mikhail Youzhny. It will mark the seventh time these two competitors will meet on the ATP World Tour, with the series tied at 3-3.
Tsonga defeated a gauntlet of opponents including world No. 1 Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray and Grigor Dimitrov before reaching his first Masters 1000 final in over two years. Tsonga’s route to the title would only get more difficult, as he faced 17-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer in the Sunday final. While many would have predicted a Federer blowout before the beginning of this week, there was a general feel that Tsonga could pull off the upset if he played similarly to how he did in his earlier matches.
The Frenchman did exactly that. He served won over 90% of his first service points, hit 11 aces and did not face a single break point en route to his 7-5, 7-6 win over the world No. 3.
“It’s completely different than before when I won in Paris. In Paris it was the first one, behind my family, all my friends, everybody. Here I just did it with my level, with my game. I played well all week. I beat many good guys. It’s a big achievement because I worked really hard to come back from my knee injury last year.”
Tsonga also does not see his new title win as added pressure to perform in the remainder of the US Open Series, and instead plans on using it as motivation.
“What is achieved is achieved, and I will, you know, just continue on this way, continue to work hard. This win give me a lot of hope for the rest of the year, of course. But I will continue to do my work like I did last couple of months, and I hope I will continue to win.”
World No. 25 Mikhail Youzny had a largely forgettable 2014, and is currently riding a two-match losing streak heading into his opener at the Western & Southern Open. He most recently lost in the opening round of the Rogers Cup to Italy’s Fabio Fognini and has since dropped two spots in the rankings. He holds a losing record of 11-16 so far this season.
While the h2h series between these two players has been largely competitive, this will mark their first meeting since Beijing in 2012, which Tsonga won in straight sets. Although the conditions are faster in Cincinnati that Toronto, there should be no reason for Tsonga to not further his campaign this week and dispatch his Russian adversary in straight sets.
Prediction: Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in Straight Sets