Roger Federer leads tennis world's tributes to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga

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Pictured left to right, Roger Federer and retiring tennis rival Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
Roger Federer led a chorus of tributes in the tennis world for retiring French star Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. Pic: Roland Garros/Getty

Roger Federer has led a chorus of tributes to retiring star Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who called time on a glittering career in emotional scenes at the French Open.

The tennis world was left heartbroken at Roland Garros on Tuesday as Tsonga's 18-year career came to a close in the cruellest of fashion.

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The Frenchman was granted a wildcard to compete at Roland Garros for the final tournament of his career after he made the heartbreaking call to retire last month.

In devastating scenes, he was brought to tears as he battled injury and eventually went down fighting in a 7-6 (8-6), 6-7 (7-4), 2-6, 6-7 (7-0) first round loss to World No.8 Casper Ruud.

Reduced to tears as he served to stay in the match, Tsonga was given a standing ovation by the home crowd on Court Philippe Chatrier, before being greeted on court by his former France Davis Cup teammates Gilles Simon, Richard Gasquet and Gael Monfils.

There was barely a dry eye at centre court when a tribute video played on a big screen, featuring messages from some of the greats of the game - including Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray.

Federer said: “Hi Jo, I wanted to congratulate you on an amazing career and it was a pleasure to share the court with and play against you, even to lose against you!

“We had some great battles; enjoy the moment in Paris with all your friends and family, in front of all your adoring spectators.”

Federer also left the French icon a touching message on social media.

Djokovic added: “Jo is one of the most charismatic tennis players ever to play the game. I’ve was very happy to share the court with him many times.

“We get along well and he’s a really nice guy. He brought a lot of positive attention and popularity to our sport not just because of his dynamic game style, but also his charisma and his personality, so it’s a big loss for professional men’s tennis to have him retire.

"I wish him all the best, and he definitely should be happy about his career and his achievements. He’s made his mark and his legacy in our sport.”

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga hangs up racquet after glittering career

Tsonga famously made it to the Australian Open final in 2008 where he lost to Djokovic, as the Serb claimed the first of his 20 grand slam titles.

He made it to the semi-finals twice at both the French Open and Wimbledon and finished runner-up to Federer at the ATP Finals in 2011.

Tsonga earned an Olympic silver medal in the men's doubles alongside Michael Llodra in 2012 in London and was part of France's Davis Cup-winning team in 2017.

He also won two Masters titles - in Paris in 2008 and Toronto in 2014.

However his struggles with a number of different injuries in recent years saw his ranking tumble to 297 and he eventually made the call to retire.

Pictured here, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga playing in his last match of an incredible tennis career.
There were emotional scenes at the French Open as Jo-Wilfried Tsonga played the last match of an incredible tennis career. Pic: Getty

“Hey Jo, I just wanted to send you a message to wish you a happy retirement and to congratulate you on an amazing career,” Murray said in his video tribute after sharing some memorable matches with Tsonga at Wimbledon.

“You’ve achieved so much, with so many highlights. You’ve been a great ambassador for the sport; I’ve always loved watching you play and competing against you, and you’ll be sorely missed. All the best, mate.”

Nadal, who lost to Tsonga in the 2008 Australian Open semi-finals, said it was "sad" to see the popular Frenchman call time on his career.

“He is very charismatic," Nadal said.

"I've known him since we were kids; he is a good guy and I think he brings a lot of positive things to our sport so I’m sad to see him going but we are getting old so it’s going to happen for everyone.”

with agencies

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