It took him three hours and 57 minutes to win an epic match against Canadian Milos Raonic in the second round of the London Olympics tennis tournament on Tuesday. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga won 3-6 6-3 25-23 establishing a new Olympic record.
The match started past noon, local time, on Court 1, to wrap up seven hours later. The third set lasted three hours. Rain had to be factored in as well, since the play was suspended early in the third set, causing a delay of another three hours.
Tsonga took the lead in the first set and didn't let the Canadian break him. 6-3 for Tsonga after 30 minutes. It was then Raonic's turn to win the second set 3-6 in 27 minutes.
The frenzy started in the third, where both players served their tails off. Tsonga saves three break points keeping the score in his favor at 3-2. At 5-4 for the Frenchman, Raonic was serving to stay in the match. At 6-6, with no tiebreak, the Canadian hasn't been broken since his first service game, without facing a break point either.
At 11-11 on Tsonga's serve, Raonic gets to 30 all. The Frenchman double-faults and the Canadian has a break point chance. But Tsonga serves a winner and leads 12-11.
They kept playing with the hope the other player would make the critical error.
Raonic's first serve percentage was superior during the entire match with a maximum speed of nearly 225 km/h! No wonder the Canadian served 23 aces, compared to Tsonga's 17, however he accumulated a total of 40 unforced errors.
Tsonga lost three match points before he won the 48-game set and match.
At the end, he still had the energy to rightfully celebrate and dance around the court. He may have qualified just for the third round, where he will meet on Wednesday the Spaniard Feliciano Lopez, but his joy was the delight for both the Court 1 audience as well as the viewers, at home.
In other news, Canadians had a great day on the podium at the London Olympics on Tuesday thanks to Antoine Valois-Fortier in the men's 81kg judo competition, divers Meaghan Benfeito and Roseline Filion, who performed in the women's syncronized 10m platform, and Christine Girard on the women's 63kg weightlifting competition. All of them won bronze medals.