Fortunately for Big Jo, the serve was on form on No.2 Court as he began with a 7-6(4), 6-4, 6-3 victory – 18 aces to his opponent’s two being the telling difference.
In a high-quality grass court contest, and in spite of a straight sets scoreline, for the first couple of sets the two all-court players were evenly matched off the ground and at the net, switching between power and finesse to land winners from every corner.
Tsonga finished with 47 winners to his 83rd-ranked opponent’s 40, and while landing a reasonable 68 per cent of his first deliveries, he importantly claimed 86 per cent of those points when they found the mark.
“I'm feeling good. I played well today. I was really relaxed on the court, and it make me save energy and play good tennis,” Tsonga said.
Tsonga will need reserves of energy when he meets one of the dangerous floaters of the draw, Latvian Ernests Gulbis, in the Second round.
While it would be a first meeting between the pair, Gulbis was responsible for sending 2010 Wimbledon finalist Tomas Berdych packing in the First round last year and wasted little energy himself in dismissing Tsonga’s countryman Edouard Roger-Vasselin 7-6(1), 6-4, 7-5.
Tsonga has reached the Wimbledon semi-finals in the past two years, with his 2011 run including a remarkable quarter-final upset of Roger Federer. It marked the first time Federer had fallen after leading two sets to love.
Since teaming up with his good friend Gael Monfils’s former coach, Australian Roger Rasheed, the results have started to show.
A triumph on home soil in Marseille earlier this year brought up tour title No.10 and this was backed up by his first home Grand Slam semi-final at Roland Garros, where he beat Federer in straight sets en route.
But the Frenchman will have his work cut if he is to make back-to-back Grand Slam semi-finals for the first time in his career and a third straight Wimbledon semi-final.
Should he negotiate a way past the flashy Gulbis, his path only gets harder.
He could meet fellow Frenchman, No.31 seed Julien Benneteau, in the Third round, before a likely Fourth-round showdown with the lanky 10th seed, Croatian Marin Cilic, who last week came within a set of defending his Queen’s Club title on the grass.
Cilic’s conqueror in that match, No.2 seed Andy Murray, is Tsonga’s expected quarter-final foe.
“Yeah, I mean, it's tough [the draw],” he said.
“It's maybe a bit tougher for Rafa or for Roger or maybe for Andy, but for me it's always the same.
“I have to play one of the best player in quarter-final anyway, so one of the top four. For me, it's like usual.”
20:08It brings me no pleasure but it's time to bring the curtain down for another year. Seemed somehow appropriate to leave the last word to Roger Federer. Thanks a billion for reading. What a fortnight, what a final, fast forward to 2015 please...
20:03"I already have seven. It's not like I need another one. But it would have been awfully nice to have it. I think that's what the feeling was of the people, and I felt that... I know they love tennis. They love tennis after we're all gone."View all