(February 26, 2013) -- After a magnificent title run in Marseille, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga was probably feeling unstoppable as he headed to Dubai, knowing that he was about to meet his longtime whipping boy, Michael Llodra, in the first round. But once his first-round tilt with his compatriot got underway on Tuesday, it became clear that the No. 5 seed might be suffering from a combination of sleep deprivation and jet lag that could transform even the strongest-willed professional tennis player into a helpless, whining ball of anger.
It all started innocently, with Tsonga seemingly about to breeze to an early lead over a player he had never lost to in six previous meetings. Then, while he was serving at game point against Llodra for a 5-3 lead in the first set, things started to unravel. A call didn't go Tsonga's way on a serve that really should have been a winner, and even though the serve was eventually ruled in, the umpire elected to have the players play a let because the original (wrong) call might have affected Llodra as he attempted to make a play on the serve.
At the time nobody, not even Tsonga, knew that this was going to be the tipping point. The Frenchman even had a good natured chuckle over it before he proceeded to double-fault the point, and subsequently the game, away. While his demeanor looks pretty pleasant during the episode and its aftermath (see video above), Tsonga's attitude changed once he had time to stew over the call, and his lackadaisical play in its aftermath.
Later in the day, a still cranky Tsonga tweeted his ire for all the world to see.
Unfortunately for Tsonga, blaming the umpire is an unacceptable reaction. Yes, it was a raw deal, but Tsonga still had the game on his racquet and the match in his hands. He's the only one to blame in this case (and furthermore, are we out of line in suggesting that Tsonga should stick to posting all his controversial tweets in his native French tongue from this point on?).
Here's what he told the press afterwards:
“When you lose a point like that, then you start to think, and double fault and the guy is back. Then you feel like you’re already tired, but you have in your mind that you still can win and play well, but when something like this happens, it’s like if somebody has punched you, and it’s tough to get up,” he added.
The body blow proved to be too much, there would be no getting up for Tsonga on this day.