J. TSONGA/S. Wawrinka 6‑4, 7‑6, 3‑6, 3‑6, 6‑4

 

JO‑WILFRIED TSONGA

 

 

Q.  Last night, as the evening was falling, not knowing if you were able to finish the match or not, was it hard to concentrate in the fourth set and the fifth set, and how did you prepare yourself mentally for this morning after this interruption?

JO‑WILFRIED TSONGA:  Yeah, yesterday was tough.  It was dark at the end and tough to continue, so the umpire decide to play today.  I don’t know if it was great for me or not, but anyway, it was like that.

Today I came on the court with the good spirit.  You know, I had a good night.  I slept well.

This morning, you know, I was ready to play again.

Q.  You played now twice in a row five sets against him.  He has many five‑set matches compared to the number of best‑of‑five matches he plays.  Do you have an explanation why he goes so often to the distance?

JO‑WILFRIED TSONGA:  Why I go or why…

 

Q.  Why Stan makes you…

JO‑WILFRIED TSONGA:  I think ‑‑ I don’t know.  Maybe the balls are a bit slower this year, and so, you know, when there is a very good player, you know, his level is maybe here, and with the ball, you know, his level will be just here.  The two player ‑‑ I don’t know how to say that.

It levels.  Yeah, it levels every player, I think, the balls, because they are slow.  And that’s it.  (Laughter.)

Q.        I wonder, your emotions today playing in a match like this, in a short match and winning it in the circumstances, how emotional is that to know it’s going to be a quick match and you won it in such style?

JO‑WILFRIED TSONGA:  Yeah, it was very intense, because, you know, we stop yesterday.  I mean, all night and this morning, you know, I thought about how I will do, how I will play, and if I will win or not.

Then when I won the last point, you know, I felt free.  That’s why there is a lot of emotion.

 

Q.  I read just before the tournament that you said there’s no chance that a Frenchman could win the French Open this year.  What do you think now?

JO‑WILFRIED TSONGA:  I mean, it’s still the same.  I mean, I just did maybe 30% of the way.  You know, the most difficult is coming.

Before the tournament, you know, I said, For the moment, nobody’s able to win this one for the moment because we never win a Tournament 1000 on clay.  That’s why I say that.

For the moment we’re not able to do that, but maybe one day it will happen, for sure.  (Smiling.)

 

Q.  Regarding the next match, you just recently played Novak in Rome and you lost.  How different do you think this match will be having in mind that you will have home court advantage?

JO‑WILFRIED TSONGA:  You know, what is good in tennis, it’s always different.  You know, every match is different.  You never know how your opponent will feel.  You never know how you will feel.

I think, you know, it’s gonna be different because I will be in front of my crowd.  It’s three sets to win.  That’s it.

 

Q.  If you look at Novak’s pressure, he’s supposed to win the Grand Slam here; you have pressure as a Frenchman to win it in your home country.  Which pressure will you find tougher to handle?

JO‑WILFRIED TSONGA:  I think for him it’s tougher.  Yeah, for him it’s tougher, because he need to win.  Me, for the moment, you know, I did my best results for the moment, so for me, it’s everything’s gonna be positive now.

Of course, I will be free on the court because I have nothing to lose against this player who is No. 1 in the world.  And anyway, the pressure will be on him.

 

Q.  It’s not easy to come back to a match in the fifth set overnight, but your match was not even the last match on Chatrier; you were the third match.  Are you satisfied and happy with the scheduling here at the French Open?

JO‑WILFRIED TSONGA:  Yeah, I mean, it’s okay, you know.  This is tennis, and they treat me like other players, you know.  In France we are fair.  We’re very fair, so they treat me like if I was somebody from anywhere.

 

Q.  Should they start the matches earlier or use more courts?  What’s the solution?

JO‑WILFRIED TSONGA:  Yeah, maybe use more court.  Yeah, it can be a good solution.  But it will happen, you know, I hope soon.

 

Q.  Going back to last night, I think at one stage you did that in the fifth set, the start.  Could you see the ball well?  Do you think there’s a case for them having lights here at Roland Garros?  It’s a Grand Slam championship.  Is there a possibility to have lights on the court?

JO‑WILFRIED TSONGA:  I mean, for this question, you know, the French Federation is working on it.  Of course everybody want to improve, but it takes time to make everybody agree about this question here in Paris.

So it will happen.  I’m sure it will happen, but it will take time.

 

Q.  Were you struggling to see the ball?  Was it difficult to see the ball last night?

JO‑WILFRIED TSONGA:  Yeah, was difficult to see the ball.  When it’s dark like this, you know, you lose sometimes the ball.

Yeah, it was not easy, so that’s why we stop.

THE MODERATOR:  Questions in French, please.

 

Q.  Did you warm up in any special way in order to be sweating when you got on the court?

JO‑WILFRIED TSONGA:  Yes, absolutely.  Yes.  I had a good warmup session.  I was already sweating when I walked on the court.  I was very warm, almost too warm, because I really wanted to play immediately and to be aggressive right from the beginning.

So I prepared according to what I had to do.  I only wanted to play just a few more games.  That’s all.

 

Q.  You said it’s also a match you won mentally, not just physically.  So how did you manage to manage your emotions?  It’s a victory in yourself, as well.

JO‑WILFRIED TSONGA:  Yes.  I have been thinking a lot about it since yesterday.  You keep thinking, Okay, what did I do wrong today?  How should I do tomorrow?  Should I arrive all warmed up or should I walk on the court very relaxed and it’s better if I’m cool and relaxed in order to play well?

I mean, I had all these questions in my mind yesterday.  To a certain extent it was a bit of a nightmare till the moment I hit my first ball, because before that I had a thousand questions in my head.  I really wanted to win that match, and it was very difficult.

I kept jumping on the court during the match because my legs, I had to keep my legs moving.

 

Q.  Would you say the score is a good reflection of what you did?  At the beginning of the fifth set, the difference from last year is that you started playing within the court.

JO‑WILFRIED TSONGA:  Yes, I did.  But, you know, tennis is kind of a war, and it’s the one most inside the court that’s gonna win.

So when your opponent manages to do that, he is leading and vice versa, the objective being to find the right tactics and make sure you manage to be more inside the court than your opponent.

For two sets I was fine yesterday.  Then he went through a great phase when he played a beautiful tennis.  He was very difficult to play when he was playing his backhand along the line, and it hurt me.

Then in the fifth set I decided I would prevent him from doing that.  And if I was to lose, then I would at least lose trying to hit the ball even earlier on the return.

It worked out fine.  So that’s tennis.  I also know that when I’m inside the court, that’s when I can hurt my opponent.  When I’m behind the baseline, that’s when I play my worst tennis.

But it’s not just my decision.

 

Q.  At one stage you had to make a decision and to say, Okay, even if I have to lose some points I’d do that?

JO‑WILFRIED TSONGA:  Well, it’s not easy, especially for me, because my natural game means that I take a lot of risks.  I sometimes make big mistakes.

It’s not easy, because when you play in front of your crowd and you take risks and you make mistakes, people start shouting at you because they don’t understand.

But, you know, that’s my game.  Well, obviously I have to continue playing my game and not think, Okay, I’m losing points here.  I should be more behind the baseline.  This is when I’m no longer playing my game.

But it’s difficult, because you know you have to do things and you know that you’re going to lose a few points and you know that the crowd is going to go, Why?  Why? And then you feel tempted to go behind the baseline, not to do the same thing again.

 

Q.  What did you have in mind when he won the break?

JO‑WILFRIED TSONGA:  Well, I had envisioned all potential situations; therefore, all possible solutions.  Then solutions are good or not.

But I thought, Okay, if things don’t go the way I want them to go, I still need to be aggressive.  I need still to keep playing.  There are a few games left.  I need to put more constant pressure on my opponent.

I just wanted to show him that I was here even though he came back from the break.

 

Q.  Just one word.  It’s the first time you make it to quarterfinals here in Roland Garros, so how do you feel?  Just a word.

JO‑WILFRIED TSONGA:  Well, I’m very happy.  I’m going to play the quarterfinals, and for a player who is not supposed to play well on clay, that’s already a big achievement.

I hope I can go even further, even deeper in the tournament.  I have faith in me.  I have faith in what I do.  I have been fighting since I was a young kid.

I was not necessarily the best in my generation.  I was good, but I was not the best.  I was not the most talented player. Yet I gave everything I have, and I hope that it’s going to be okay.

 

Q.  Yesterday in the two last sets, instead of feeling that the players were tired, we felt that everything was speeding up, as if both of you wanted to come to the end of this match as quickly as possible.  We realized that you had great support from the crowd who’d love to see you winning after Noah.  So did you want to finish off the match?  Because you were hitting the balls very hard.

JO‑WILFRIED TSONGA:  Yes, but, you know, Stan and I, we hit the balls very hard anyway.  So, yes, yesterday I had kind of a boost of energy in the third set.  I was so much supported by the crowd.  I felt good.

It’s true that when you’re a bit tired, then you’re more relaxed and you start hitting harder and harder.  You start making fewer mistakes, and then it becomes more impressive than at the beginning when you have a lot of energy but you’re not very accurate and you’re not very good.

 

Q.  Tomorrow you’re playing Djokovic.  You know him well.  You played him eleven times and you won five times.

JO‑WILFRIED TSONGA:  These are not real statistics.  I won five times, but that was ten years ago.  So you want to see the number of times I defeated him the last times we met, and the result is not many times.

So it’s going to be a very difficult match.  But obviously I’ll fight like a lion and we’ll see the result.  But I’ll do everything I can to make it a difficult match for him.

 

Q.  What did you learn from your match in Rome?

JO‑WILFRIED TSONGA:  Well, maybe I’ll play from the baseline but in order to better come inside the court, because it’s important for me to destabilize him; to do that, I’ll have to play deep.  I’ll have to use my returns.

It’s going to be important for me to sometimes play from the back of the court to try and make him leave his lines.

 

Q.  What about Rome?

JO‑WILFRIED TSONGA:  Well, Rome was a match when we played a huge first set.  I was close in the first set, and then it became more difficult.  That’s it.

 

Q.  Last time you defeated Djokovic was not ten years ago.  It was in 2009 when you defeated him each match.  How come?  How did he manage to turn it around?

JO‑WILFRIED TSONGA:  Well, back then he was not as good as he is.  He was young.  He was very young.  I’m two years older than him.

Since then he is ‑‑ well, first, he’s more mature and he plays better.  He’s improved on all his shots. His forehand is far better than it used to be.

In the past he was not that good with his forehand.  There was a problem with that shot in the past, and there is no problem anymore.  His serve was not as good and he had less experience, but now he can do anything.

He’s very good at the net.  He has a very good touch.  He can play both tremendous forehands and backhands.  He returns very well.  That’s it.

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