Jo Wilfried Tsonga hasn't dropped a set in Melbourne. Image courtesy of bbc.co.uk
France is certain to have at least one player in the last eight of the Men’s singles draw at the Australian Open, with world number eight Jo Wilfried Tsonga facing ninth seed Richard Gasquet on Rod Laver Arena on Monday. 2008 runner-up Tsonga will be bidding to reach the quarter-finals for the fourth time in his last seven appearances at Melbourne Park, while a win for Gasquet would send him through to the last eight for just the second time at a Grand Slam event.
Tsonga eased through the opening week of the Australian Open with straight sets wins in the first three rounds over Michael Llodra, Go Soeda and Blaz Kavcic. He looked particularly menacing in his third round victory over Kavcic, dropping just seven games and taking 79 minutes to send the 25 year-old packing. The Frenchman was imperious in that match, hitting 45 winners, but the ease of his win was hardly a surprise given the seventh seed reserves some of his best tennis for Melbourne Park, having been runner-up in 2008, a quarter-finalist in 2009 and a semi-finalist in 2010.
Despite being taken to four sets against Ivan Dodig in his most recent match, Gasquet has also had a relatively easy run to the last 16. After dropping just eight games against Spaniard Albert Montanes in the opening round, the world number 10 breezed past Alejandro Falla in the second. For all of his class, it is hard to believe that Gasquet’s semi-final appearance at Wimbledon in 2007 is the only time that he has made it past the 4th round at a Grand Slam event in more than a decade on tour.
In seven ATP meetings between the pair, there has been little to split Tsonga and Gasquet, with the latter holding a narrow 4-3 career advantage. Tsonga won their most recent match however, on a hardcourt in Tokyo four years ago. That was his second win from four hardcourt meetings against his compatriot, to go with his four set round of 16 victory here in 2008.
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