Friday, 17 January 2014

Tsonga into third round

For the second time Jo-Wilfried Tsonga would have the pleasure of me watching him play at this Australian Open.  This match was a second round encounter with Brazilian Thomaz Belluci, once ranked 21 in the world, now placed at 129, not the kind of trend one wants to follow if courting success against a seeded player such as Tsonga.

Dressed alike, as if in uniform, the two were joined in battle, Tsonga firing the first shots - the first was a bullseye and the ace was symptomatic of a game in which Belluci had no room to play.
For the next two games nothing of import occurred, but the powerful Tsonga groundstrokes caught up with Belluci in the fourth game, causing a service break and a French advantage 3-1.
Things were as per expected until a stack of errors by Jo-Wilfried introduced themselves in the seventh game to reset the match on serve.

Although Belluci's first serve percentage was abysmal, Tsonga was strangely powerless to go after the second serve in a way which would cause scoreboard pressure.  In fact no real pressure was brought to bear on either player's serve for the next stanza of the match - it was as if the pair had some sort of agreement to let the first set be decided in a tie break because that would allow maximum serving practice for them both.

The tie break did arrive and Tsonga nearly let slip a good advantage before taking out the first set 7-6.  At this point, tournament officials implemented the extreme heat policy.
Once all matches currently underway at the time on outside courts were concluded, no more would start until further notice, and the roof would be shut on Hisense Arena.  The implications were many, including the fact that the Belluci rescue mission would now be an indoor event.

Tsonga broke the Belluci serve in the first game of set two as the Brazilian's struggles continued.  However, Jo-Wilfried seemed disinterested after that, only to the extent of making sure his own delivery was still sold.  Belluci could be serving tomatoes and Tsonga would not have noticed.  He was that confident in his own ability to use the single break and serve out the set.
By the time 5-4 had arrived, Tsonga was in a pretty good place, with his volleying brought back to add variety to his game, and nothing would prevent him serving out for a 7-6 6-4 lead.

Set three and déjà vu - Tsonga, with his all court game firing on nearly all cylinders, broke Belluci to lead 1-0.
Again, no great efforts to break the Belluci serve, just the desire to hold his own, and Tsonga did that effortlessly.

The 10th seeded French player won 7-6 6-4 6-4

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