Tsonga looking for three card trick
Tennis:It is almost taken for granted that the men’s US Open title will be won by one of three men — and there is no argument from two of those expected to provide a challenge.
Given that Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal have won 29 of the last 30 grand slam titles between them — with only Juan Martin Del Potro in New York in 2009 breaking the run — it is perhaps not surprising that Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Tomas Berdych are pessimistic.
There is no Nadal this time because of knee problems but Andy Murray is full of confidence after winning Olympic gold and, with four final losses in slams already, the Scot appears to be next in line.
Tsonga and Berdych both have one grand slam final appearance to their name — the Frenchman at the Australian Open in 2008 and Berdych at Wimbledon in 2010 — but mostly it has been a story of so near and yet so far.
Speaking about trying to win a grand slam after beating Slovakia’s Karol Beck 6-3 6-1 7-6 (7/2) in the first round, fifth seed Tsonga said: “In my heart I feel like it’s difficult but it’s always in my mind. I play tennis to win big tournaments like this. Since I was kid, I dreamt about it.
“This is what gives me motivation. It’s to win something like this. I will never give up, and I will work until I cannot work any more. But if I want to win a tournament like this with my ranking, I have to beat maybe Murray in the quarter-finals, Federer in the semi-finals and Novak in the final.
“For a player like me, it’s even more difficult than for them, because they have to play two matches like this and I have to play three. It’s already something good if you win one match against one of these guys; two, it’s amazing, three, for the moment, it’s impossible.”
Sixth seed Berdych, who came through 7-5 6-3 6-3 against talented Belgian David Goffin, said: “I’m doing what I think is best. I’m trying to do it every day, work hard and hopefully one day I can say that actually that was the best thing I could do and maybe it happens, maybe not. The majors are not for everyone. This time it’s just probably for three guys. It’s how it is. We are probably in the best era of our sport.”
Another player tipped to provide a challenge to the leading trio is big-hitting Canadian Milos Raonic, who scraped into round two with a 6-3 4-6 3-6 6-4 6-4 victory over Colombia’s Santiago Giraldo.
Raonic, who could be a fourth-round opponent for Murray, was a break down in the fourth set and looking down and out. He said: “I’m just happy with the outcome and that I managed to make the most of that moment and just find a way to win. Everything else I’ve got to hope gets better in the next round.”
Former champion Andy Roddick began his campaign with a 6-3 6-4 6-4 victory over 21-year-old American qualifier Rhyne Williams, while in-form Sam Querrey was also a home winner, the 27th seed defeating Lu Yen-hsun from Chinese Taipei 6-7 (4/7) 6-4 6-4 7-5. Eleventh seed Nicolas Almagro from Spain was pushed by experienced Czech Radek Stepanek before prevailing 6-4 6-7 (5/7) 6-3 6-4.