Jo-Wilfried Tsonga will play his first match as a father when he takes on fellow Frenchman, Adrian Mannarino in the first round of the Monte Carlo Masters on Tuesday.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga vs Adrian Mannarino ATP Monte Carlo Masters tennis is live from Monte Carlo on Tuesday, 18 April from 12:30pm local time/ 11:30am BST. Watch and bet on tennis live from Monte Carlo at bet365 > live streaming > tennis
The world number ten pulled out of the Miami Masters so that he could be with his partner, Noura El Shwekh for the birth of their first child, while he also missed France’s Davis Cup quarter final against Great Britain.
Apart from his off-court triumphs, Tsonga has enjoyed plenty of success on the tennis courts this season, winning back-to-back titles Rotterdam and Marseille to climb back into the top ten on the ATP rankings.
Tsonga has slowly improved his results as the year has progressed- he reached the quarter finals in his first two tournaments of the season in Doha and the Australian Open; he went one step better in Montpellier, losing to Alexander Zverev in the semi-finals, before going on a run of nine straight victories, yielding the aforementioned titles in Rotterdam and Marseille.
The one bad result he has had this year has been at Indian Wells, where he fell in three sets to Fabio Fognini in the opening round.
Tsonga will have designs on another strong run in Monte Carlo- having made the semi-finals last year. He scored a marquee victory over Roger Federer in the quarter finals before losing to Gael Monfils in the last four. Tsonga’s 2016 run was the second time in four years that he had made the last four in Monte Carlo- he was beaten by Rafael Nadal in the 2013 semi.
His first task in the principality this year will be to take down world number 56, Adrian Mannarino in the opening round on Tuesday.
Adrian Mannarino (Photo by Dave Rowland/Getty Images)
Mannarino lost his first five matches on the ATP Tour this season, but in between those losses, he kept himself afloat with success on the Challenger Tour, claiming titles in Noumea and Quimper.
He finally picked up his first tour victory of the season in Acapulco, defeating Taylor Fritz in three sets, but he fell to Dominic Thiem in the next round. It was more of the same at Indian Wells, where he beat Juan Monaco in three, before bowing to Roberto Bautista-Agut in straights in the next round. Mannarino finally strung together consecutive ATP wins for the first time this season in Miami, getting past Benjamin Becker, Paolo Lorenzi and Borna Coric before losing to Tomas Berdych in the fourth round.
The Frenchman has brought that improved form on to the clay courts in Monte Carlo. After coming through two rounds of qualifying, Mannarino took down Spanish veteran, Guillermo Garcia-Lopez in the first round, setting up this meeting with Tsonga. Mannarino’s best result on clay last season was a semi-final in Nice, where he took down Robin Haase, Benoit Paire and Guido Pella before being stopped by Dominic Thiem, while he also defeated Mikhail Kukushkin to reach the second round at Roland Garros. His Monte Carlo record is however not so promising, as up until his victory over Garcia-Lopez, he had not won a main draw match in Monte Carlo.
Will that galvanise him against one of the most feared players in the draw?
With the power coming off Tsonga’s racket, Mannarino’s best chance of an upset is to perhaps hope that Tsonga is still distracted by recent developments in his personal life. The higher-ranked player won their only previous meeting, quite handily too, a 6-2 6-4 victory in Miami in 2014, and I expect a similar result when they meet in Monte Carlo on Tuesday.
Mannarino is quite crafty around the court, but Tsonga’s power should be too much for the 28-year-old.