Frenchman Jo Wilfred Tsonga produced a masterclass performance to dash top seed Novak Djokovic’s hope of winning the Toronto ATP Master Series 1000 tournament. The affair lasted just 63 minutes, and saw the world number one get dismissed with a comprehensive 6-2 6-2 score line. With defending champion Rafael Nadal pulling out of the tournament, Djokovic was considered the clear favorite to take the 1,000 raking points, but apparently Tsonga never got the memo, and dismantled the Serbian in his third victory over a number-one ranked player.
Following a tough three-set match (6-2, 6-7, 7-6) against another Frenchman, Gail Monfils, in the previous round, Djokovic, the three-time champion in Toronto (2007, 11,12), suffered his first hard-court straight-sets loss in 57 matches. The Wimbledon champion had no answer for Tsonga’s aggressive and well-constructed game plan. Tsonga broke an eleven-match losing streak against the Serbian, and fired off 23 winners while converting all four of his break opportunities to reach the quarterfinals for the third time (also 2009,11).
In other action, 2014 Australian Open champion and third seed Stan Wawrinka was also upset in his round of 16 match, as he was dismissed by hard-serving South African Kevin Anderson 7-6, 7-5. This is the second time this season that Anderson has dismissed the Swiss right-hander, having also defeated him at the same stage at the Indian Wells ATP Master Series 1000 tournament earlier this year. A good draw sometimes means playing opponents whose game is well-suited for a victory. It appears that Anderson’s hard-hitting style is a problem for Wawrinka, and his defeat added another top seed to the day’s casualties after Tsonga dismantled Djokovic.
Still left in the draw are fifth seed Spaniard David Ferrer, who rallied to earn a come-from-behind victory over Croatian journeyman Ivan Dodig 1-6, 6-3, 6-3. Dodig scored an upset over big American John Isner in the first round, and seemed to bring that momentum into the first set of the match. Ferrer, who is making his ninth appearance at the tournament simply outclassed his younger opponent, and goes into the quarterfinals for the first time in Canada.
The ‘Big Four’ seems to be wavering in their domination of the men’s game. With only Federer and Murray left in the draw, it seems that the new wave of young guns will eventually have its day in the sun. While the end of an era may seem like a sad thing, the next generation of players will carry the mantle of professionalism and competition to a new series of tennis fans, and despite the loss of old favorites, the game will go on.
Fighting for the thousand points, and the million dollar bonus presented by the U.S. Open series, Djokovic faltered as he was dismantled by Tsonga. Tsonga’s victory sets up a mouth-watering match against eight seed Briton Andy Murray, and Anderson will go on to face rising star and seventh seed Grigor Dimitrov. The next few weeks leading to the U.S. Open could prove to be pivotal for the future of tennis as well as the changing of the guard.
Commentary by John Benjamin Wilson