Tsonga follows own path

2012-01-21 14:39

Melbourne - Jo-Wilfried Tsonga said not having a coach had done him no harm at all after taking just 90 minutes to power into the fourth round of the Australian Open on Saturday.

The French sixth seed blasted out a 6-2, 6-2, 6-2 win over 107th-ranked Portuguese Frederico Gil to be the first in the men's top half of the draw to reach the round of 16.

Tsonga, who lost to Novak Djokovic in the 2008 Melbourne final, will play Japan's 24th seed Kei Nishikori in the fourth round on Monday. Nishikori leads their matches 1-0.

Tsonga, the top-ranked French man, parted company with long-time coach Eric Winogradsky last April and has since been on his own.

In that time he has reached the semi-finals at Wimbledon and the US Open quarter-finals and has now recorded his best performance in two years at the Australian Open.

After putting Gil to the sword on Saturday, the 26-year-old Frenchman saw no pressing need to recruit a replacement mentor for Winogradsky.

"I mean, it's not the first one (tournament without a coach), so I feel good. I'm OK," he said. "You can also improve your game by yourself. I've improved a lot.

"I'm here because maybe I had coach, but now I feel like I have to follow my opinion maybe a bit more."

Tsonga said he intended to go it alone for the time being until results forced a rethink.

"I don't know. We'll see. If I still improve my game why do I have to change?" said Tsonga.

Last year, easy-going Tsonga commented that not having a coach forced him to be more responsible and professional. And he said in the mean time, he has been picking up some advice from outside his camp.

"Last year I went to Las Vegas have to some practice with the adidas team and Andre Agassi was there. He gave me some advice. We talked together," he said.

Tennis showman Mansour Bahrami, 55, who spends most of the year playing in senior tournaments and exhibitions around the world, was also among Tsonga's entourage watching him play on Saturday.

"He's been watching me for three or four years. He supports me. I think it's enough. He has taught me some tricks, but not how to win," Tsonga quipped.

The athletic Frenchman, who performed his trademark victory jig on court after his win, broke Gil's serve six times and fought off six break points against his own service.

"Today(Saturday) I played well, I felt good on the court. For much of the match I played better and I hope it will continue and I can go far in this tournament," Tsonga said.

Tsonga is unbeaten in eight matches this season after winning his eighth ATP singles title in Doha on the way to Australia. Gil was the first Portuguese man to reach the third round at a grand slam.