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Tsonga says he is not a French fancy for the tournament

On the eve of the French Open, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga was asked whether he thought France was ready for a first men's champion at Roland Garros since Yannick Noah dived and danced his way to the title in 1983.

Tsonga celebrates beating Stanislav Wawrinka. Picture: Getty
Tsonga celebrates beating Stanislav Wawrinka. Picture: Getty

His answer was quick and unambiguous. No.

The world No.5 completed a five-set victory over Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland yesterday, resuming at 4-2 up in the decider and holding on to reach the quarter-finals for the first time in his career.

Today he takes on world No.1 Novak Djokovic, a task difficult enough in itself and as he contemplated exactly what he needs to do to win, his opinion on the original question had not changed.

"It's still the same," he said. "I mean, I just did maybe 30% of the way. The most difficult is coming. Before the tournament, I said, for the moment, nobody's able to win this one because we never won [even] a Masters 1000 on clay. That's why I say that.

"For the moment we're not able to do that, but maybe one day it will happen, for sure."

Many a Frenchman has had high hopes of success in Paris only to buckle under the stress of performing on home soil but Tsonga said the pressure was on the Serb because he is chasing his fourth straight grand slam title.

"I think for him it's tougher," Tsonga said. "He needs to win. Me, for the moment, I did my best results here so far, so for me, everything's going to be positive now. I will be free on the court because I have nothing to lose against the No.1 in the world."

However, Tsonga said the fact that he has won five of his 11 meetings with Djokovic did not mean he had a good chance, on paper at least.

"These are not real statistics," he said. "I won five times, but that [may as well have been] ten years ago. "See the number of times I defeated him the last times we met and the result is not many times.

It's going to be a very difficult match but obviously I'll fight like a lion. But I'll do everything I can to make it a difficult match for him."

With Roger Federer or Juan Martin Del Potro, a 7-6, 1-6, 6-3, 7-5 winner over seventh seed Tomas Berdych, to play the winner, there is still an awful long way for the Frenchman to go.

And then there is Rafael Nadal. From 2-1 down to Juan Monaco, an Argentine who has won two clay-court titles this year, the six-times champion won 17 straight games to win 6-2, 6-0, 6-0.

It was a beat-down, pure and simple, against a man ranked No.15 and who had won 16 of his 20 clay-court matches before running into Nadal.

"I am very happy the way I played," Nadal said. "I feel very, very sorry for him. I think he's playing probably the best tennis of his career, but probably not today after, especially the last set when he started to miss. I saw him suffering a little bit on court at the end and he is one of my best friends on Tour.

"I played really well. I know that. I have reached quarter-finals and I feel really comfortable, really at ease. When the tournament is over, I'll tell you if this was my best Roland Garros or not. So far, so good, but we'll see. The most difficult thing is yet to come."

Next up for the world No.2, for whom a seventh title here would break the record he shares with Bjorn Borg, is his fellow Spaniard Nicolas Almagro, a 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 winner over another Serbian, Janko Tipsarevic.

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