Dad-to-be Jo-Wilfried Tsonga admits wanting to have a lengthy offseason played a part in his decision to pass on the alternate spot at the ongoing ATP World Tour Finals as the Frenchman begins to plot for what he believes will be the “most interesting” year of his career.
Tsonga forewent guaranteed prize money and the opportunity to be a substitute for one of the eight players contesting the Tour Finals in London at the moment to spend more time on his preseason preparations for 2017.
The Frenchman, who was in Abu Dhabi yesterday to attend the draw of next month’s Mubadala World Tennis Chapmionship, said he will begin his preseason training in one week’s time.
The 31-year-old is expecting his first child with his fiancée Noura Al Shwekh sometime in the first quarter of 2017 and says he can’t wait to be a dad.
“For me it’s something unbelievable, I always wished I can have a baby, with my fiancée it’s just unbelievable what happened and I’m looking forward to it,” said the former Australian Open finalist.
“For me I think it’s going to be easy to do both, being a dad and being on court and battling for victories. I think it’s no problem.”
Does tennis lie in the future of his child?
“I will encourage him to be happy and be healthy and that’s it for the moment. And I will follow him in his passion,” replied Tsonga.
Tsonga qualified to the ATP World Tour Finals on five previous occasions and reached the final of the competition in 2011. He could have been the second alternate in London this year behind Belgian David Goffin but he opted out.
“All those years I had a pretty short offseason, sometimes because of the schedule, because I had to play Davis Cup or to play the Masters or to go to London, but also sometimes I was injured. So for me it’s going to be the first time I will have all that time to prepare well and start the year in really good condition,” said Tsonga.
He added: “I think 2017 will be, from my side, the most interesting year of tennis.”
.@MubadalaTennis draw:— Reem Abulleil (@ReemAbulleil) November 14, 2016
Thurs Dec 29: 5pm Tsonga v Goffin, 7pm Nadal v Berdych
Fri Dec 30: 5pm Murray v Tsonga/Goffin, Raonic v Nadal/Berdych pic.twitter.com/JP4jMsN5CG
This is just the second time in the last six seasons that Tsonga has ended the year outside the top-10. His 2016 was hampered by injuries particularly in the period between the French and US Opens but he has finished the season relatively strong, reaching the final in Vienna and the quarters in both Shanghai and Paris.
It is a stretch that pales in comparison though to what Andy Murray has managed to achieve in the same period, winning four tournaments in a row to rise to No1 in the world for the first time in his career last week.
“I think he’s the best player in the world at the moment. He played unbelievable the last six months and I think he completely deserves it and he showed that when you want something you can achieve it,” said Tsonga of Murray.
Does Murray’s ascension affect Tsonga personally in any way?
“Not at all,” Tsonga responded with a smile. “Andy has always been one of the best guys, No3, No2, he’s always been there, so for me nothing has changed. It will change if one day I become No3, two, or one, but for the moment nothing has changed for me.”