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Tsonga just kicked RN's ass. RN was always shaky on any surface other than clay in a best of 5 setter, and he struggles with any player who have a flat and hard game compered to a loopy ground stroke game more associated with clay courters. Thats why he looses to James Blake all the time and to players like Berdych and Youzhny. Tsonga is fresh and going for broke so he is in my book for right now, just a flash in the pan... a refreshing one though nonetheless. ND will give RF a scare but if it goes a long distance he wont last, for reasons of pressure as well as stamina. He has some breathing issues. It could still be close with potential to go the other way. The point is this, RF gets into a different zone of focus when he comes to play these championship matches at the grand slams. I knew that he needed to survive the first week because of his lack of practise pre tournament as well as the fact that this surface is new and a tad slower than one where his skills are at their best display, i.e. grass and deco-turf at the US Open. But to that point this plexi-cushion surface is expected to get faster as the week progresses, another thing that will weigh in RF's favor.
I really hope RF can pull this off. It will set the right tone for the rest of the year for him as he is chasing a golden grand slam and Pete's record. It will also be great that he can pull this off with what seems to be a semblance of competition in the field. The lack of competition is something Pete and other detractors always talk about and hence imply that RF's dominance is less meaningfull compared to Pete's run of 14. But then again is he remains as the last man on the top of the mountain on Sunday, the detractors will go on saying the same thing...there is no competition.

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Hi Vic! welcome to the forum.
I love this post. I hear what you are saying especially with respect to RN's ability against big hitters.
but I gotta disagree with you about Tsonga being a flash in the pan. From what I've seen, he has great game and his head seems pretty level right now too. If he can stay healthy and balanced, he'll be a force to reckon with.
M
If one watched Gonzo last year at the Aussie Open one could have said ...well his time has come, finally we have another one who is a contender (not a flash in the pan). Tsonga has had a flamboyant game for some time now and his absolute fun to watch. It seems finally he is hitting his stride coming out of the shadows of Gasquet. I will hold my resesrvations about Tsonga untill he plays his first final and on how the remainder of the tour takes to seeing the big bulls eye on his back for the rest of this 2008 season.
Hey there Vic! Nice to have you here!

I have to say Jo is not a flash in the pen. The reason being is that he has evolved his game. The first time I ever saw him was vs. Roddick at the French Open '05. He lost in straights, but he played an exciting match. He had opportunities to hand Andy another infamous first round FO exit. However, he was overweight and had nothing going for him except a big forehand and a serve. He also couldn't volley as well as he has been doing this tournament.
He suffered alot with injuries, sorta like that blonde, freckle-faced kid. Ah his name is on the tip of my fingers. Anyway, when he wasn't injured, Jo always made special appearances; by that I mean he would all of a sudden be in a quarterfinal of a small tourny or warm up tourney, then disappear to the challenger circuit. He did this consistently since that first match vs. Roddick. But everytime, there would be something different about his game, or his on-court behavior would change. He used to get pumped up and had the utmost disregard for his opponent while going through his celebrations. They weren't Hewitt-like, but brash, trying to get the crowd into (all the while expending huge amount of energy, i.e. AO '07 vs. Roddick). Then he started beating Hewitt, which was big for him, but then lost in the next round to someone he was expected to beat.
I believe it took those next round loses after big wins to teach him how to compose himself and focus. That is also something he has done well. I honestly felt that if he didn't reach at least the semis, his win over Murray in the first round would've been a complete waste. I'm glad he's made it this far, and I hope he continues. That one, sick slice-volley-spin-around move he did vs. Nadal was reminiscent of some stuff Agassi used to pull later in his career. A lot of fun to watch. I'd love to see this guy vs. Federer.
I agree that it'll be interesting to see how he handles the rest of the season.

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