TORONTO - He knocked off the No. 1-seeded Novak Djokovic, then No. 8 Andy Murray and in Saturday's semi-final, No. 7 Grigor Dimitrov. But on Sunday, No. 2 Roger Federer was standing between him and his first Rogers Cup title. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga was not intimidated, defeating the Swiss star 7-5, 7-6 (3) to cap off a phenomenal week in Toronto.
Entering the Rogers Cup as the No. 13 seed, I had my doubts about Jo-Wilfried Tsonga's chance of success this week. The closest the 29-year-old ever came to a Grand Slam was reaching the final at the 2008 Australian Open and despite sporting a decent singles career record of 307-141, had only won 10 titles. The Rogers Cup was not one of those. But there was something different about the Frenchman and early on, fans could sense it.
Tsonga kicked off the tournament by defeating two of his fellow countrymen. First, he dispatched Edouard Roger-Vasselin 7-6(3), 6-1, then Jeremy Chardy 7-6(6), 6-4. Tsonga then began his shocking run, first defeating the top-seeded Djokovic 6-2, 6-2, followed by Murray, Dimitrov and in Sunday's final, Federer.
Speaking of the latter, Tsonga, much like it had been all week, had everything working on this day. En route to the championship win, he fired 11 aces against Federer while winning a phenomenal 94 per cent (33 out of 35) of his first serves.
What impressed me more than anything about Jo-Wilfried Tsonga's play this week was his incredible resolve. His four upsets aside, Tsonga lost just one set (Andy Murray) the entire tournament. The Frenchman simply proved that nothing is won on paper, hitting the court day after day, eliminating the game's marquee players like it was going out of style, so to speak.
If this week's Rogers Cup was meant to be a preparation period for this month's US Open, then Jo-Wilfried Tsonga did his homework, and then some.
While Tsonga deserves a plethora of praise for his championship win, Roger Federer deserves a great deal as well. Of all of the upsets that did take place in Toronto this past week, the 33-year-old held his own and stayed the course, making it to the final and making a valiant effort at that, albeit in a losing cause.
As for Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, this week's win has to rank up there with one of his most important just considering the competition he had to get through to reach the top of the proverbial mountain.
It has been quite a week here at the Rogers Cup in Toronto and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga's finish capped it off in grand fashion. But Toronto's loss will be Montreal's gain as the men shift to La Belle Province for the 2015 Rogers Cup. There, the Frenchman will look to repeat. For now, we look back on a fantastic tournament with just-as-fantastic a finish.
Congratulations to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga on capturing the 2014 Rogers Cup.