Jo-Wilfried Tsonga has revealed that he has witnessed most of his rivals enjoying “big parties” while juggling their tennis careers – including those of Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal. The former world No 5 once battled the champions for the sport’s biggest titles and admitted that players needed to let their hair down amid demands of the tennis tour.
Djokovic and Nadal have cemented themselves as two of the greatest champions that tennis has ever seen, holding 24 and 22 Grand Slam singles titles respectively. Both men have been able to create and break several records in the sport, with the Serb spending a staggering 404 weeks as the world No 1 while the 37-year-old has 14 French Opens to his name.
But even Djokovic and Nadal have had to enjoy some time away from tennis as old rival Tsonga admitted that both men enjoyed partying when they could. “Is it possible to have big parties and have fun when you’re a professional? Seriously, maybe I shouldn’t say it, but seriously… I’ve seen them all,” the 18-time title winner told the Do It Yourself podcast.
And Tsonga really had seen everyone, as he added: “Don’t let anyone tell me anything. Djokovic, Nadal… I’ve seen everyone.” However, the now-retired Frenchman thought that the multi-Grand Slam champions had the right idea to let their hair down every so often.
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Tsonga continued: “You just have to do it at the appropriate times, not during a tournament. It’s not ideal, you have to be honest, but to keep the circuit going for 40 weeks, going around the world for 15 years, you have to have fun and enjoy it from time to time.”
The 38-year-old enjoyed some big battles of his own with Djokovic and Nadal during his prime. Tsonga’s only Grand Slam final appearance came at the 2008 Australian Open where he faced Djokovic for the first time, with the Serb picking up his maiden Major title.
But the French star was able to get his revenge, beating Djokovic in their next four meetings across 2008 and 2009. Tsonga also downed the world No 1 in Australia two years later, coming through their quarter-final clash in five sets. En route to his Aussie Open final in 2008, he also beat Nadal in the semi-final. It was one of four career victories Tsonga earned over the Spaniard.
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Tsonga also had a good relationship with his old rivals and Djokovic was full of kind words for the former world No 5 when he retired last year. “I know Jo very well also little bit back from the junior days. We always got along very well. I have tons of respect for him,” the 24-time Grand Slam champion said.
“Really nice guy, great guy. And he brought a lot of positive attention to the sport with the way he was playing and he was behaving. I think he can be very proud of everything that he has achieved and left behind in the sport.”
Nadal also shared his well wishes for Tsonga, adding: “Jo is very charismatic. I know him since we were kids, good guy. I think he brings a lot of positive things to our sport so I’m sad to see him going but we’re getting old so [it’s] gonna happen to everyone.”
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