Jo-Wilfried Tsonga has had every reason to enjoy his Australian Open journey more than most this time around.
The Frenchman has endured a poor string of results at the previous three Grand Slams, bowing out at the first, third and second rounds respectively of Roland Garros, Wimbledon and the US Open.
But having reached the last eight at Melbourne Park in 2017, Tsonga knows what it takes to contest the business end of the first major of the year.
Unfortunately for him, Nick Kyrgios has shattered his hopes of making a third quarter-final appearance Down Under.
Tsonga caused problems for the 22-year-old throughout the encounter but ultimately couldn’t stop him from claiming a deserved victory, 6-7 (5), 6-4, 6-7 (6), 6-7 (5).
Kyrgios’ quality aside, the 2008 finalist was always in for a tough night playing an Aussie in front of a packed Rod Laver Arena.
While it’s safe to say most of the audience wasn’t behind Tsonga, things did turn a little sour at one stage.
In contrast to his typically jovial demeanour, Tsonga played a part in a situation rarely seen on a tennis court – and it wasn’t pretty.
TSONGA FLIPS OUT
Changing ends after holding serve in the opening game of the fourth set, Tsonga made a confrontational gesture towards a spectator as if to challenge them to a brawl.
According to New York Times journalist Ben Rothenberg, the 32-year-old was shouting French words to the effect of: “Bring him down here and I’ll kick his ass.”
In response to the chair umpire attempting to take control, Tsonga then added: “He [a member of the crowd] said something to me and I do what I want.”
Well, so much for the Australian Open being ‘The Happy Slam’.
While the controversy didn’t amount to anything close to what Tsonga was attempting to incite, it wasn’t the end of the matter.
He received a code violation for his troubles, which some might feel is slightly unfair without knowing exactly what was said to him.
TSONGA REFLECTS ON WHAT HAPPENED
Speaking about the incident after the match, Tsonga said: “Yeah, because on the set point, in between the first serve and the second, the guy was talking to me and telling me, ‘You are under pressure now, you are under pressure now’, when I was bouncing my balls,” per the Metro.
“That’s it. I lost it and I drive a little bit crazy.
“You know, it’s not fair. It’s not fair. But, yeah, that’s it. The guy was feeling safe because he was, you know, upstairs.
“I just tell him, ‘Come now to see if you feel the pressure or not’. That’s it.
“But nothing really important."
Whether or not Tsonga has already moved on from the brief clash, let’s hope it’s the last we see of such nonsense.
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