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Tsonga no longer the surprise package

Last updated on: September 29, 2008 12:52 IST

Hard-hitting Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga breathed a huge sigh of relief on Sunday after a maiden tour victory that proved his fairytale Australian Open run was no fluke.

Tsonga, who leapt from obscurity in January to reach the Melbourne final, clinched a stunning straight-sets win over world number three Novak Djokovic in the Thailand Open final to become the ninth first-time winner on this year's ATP Tour.

The victory was bittersweet for Tsonga, who exacted revenge on Djokovic for beating him in the year's first grand slam final and spoiling one of sport's biggest giant-killing stories.

"This win is like a dream, it's been an amazing year for me," Tsonga told Reuters.

"What happened at the Australian Open was fantastic, but winning here has shown I can do that again.

"To go from nowhere and get right up here in such a short time is amazing, no one thought it would happen."

The 23-year-old burst on to the tennis scene when he humbled Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray and Richard Gasquet in Melbourne, but his season has since been blighted by injury, forcing him to miss the French Open and Wimbledon.

INJURY WOES

He was sidelined for three months after knee surgery in May and Bangkok was only his second tournament since his layoff.

"It was so difficult to come back," said Tsonga, who won over the Bangkok crowd with an array of flawless shots which left Djokovic stunned.

"Of course, I believe injury has stopped me winning more tournaments. Of course, I know I can do it again. It's been a very frustrating time for me."

Given his family background, it is no surprise Tsonga, the son of a French mother and Congolese father, has found success in the sporting arena.

His second cousin, Charles N'Zogbia, plays for English soccer team Newcastle United, his father is a former international handball player and his younger brother has been picked for France's national basketball development programme.

Tsonga, who lives in Switzerland, said he would cherish his first tournament win but promised not to dwell on it. "We have to enjoy the moment, but next week is another tournament, another match, another first round," he said.

"It was difficult here and it will always be difficult.

"The difference now is the other players are aware of me, I won't be a surprise anymore."

Martin Petty
Source:
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