With apologies to Simona Halep, who was meant to be on court today around midday (BST) but still hasn’t appeared for her first-round match against Nastasja Schunk, I’m going to get off now. It’s hometime. But stay tuned for Tumaini Carayol’s day report from Roland Garros. Until next time, goodbye!
Jessica Pegula, daughter of billionaire Terry Pegula (Forbes’ 434th richest man in the world earning a fortune from oil, real estate and sporting investments, including owning the NFL team Buffalo Bills), is in great form at the moment. The No 11 seed reached the final in Madrid and is leading Wang Qiang. She’s one set up and it’s on serve in the second.
Alex de Minaur is in real danger of blowing it against the unseeded Frenchman, Hugo Gaston. After winning the first set, the Australian lost the second set 6-2, with Gaston serving for the match at 5-3 up in the third!
Both American Jessica Pegula and Tamara Zidansek look like they are safely through to the second round. Both are a set up in their matches against Wang Qiang and Claire Liu, respectively.
Paula Badosa, a real contender for the title here, is on court for her first-round match against Fiona Ferra. The Manhattan-born Spaniard took some time off before the French Open.
“I really needed it,” she said last week. “It’s been a tough year, with a lot of new things: new challenges, expectations, and a lot of things to handle. With all that, came a lot of emotions, to be honest, and I really needed to stop for at least a day or two where I could be on the sofa at home and think about me and how I am right now.
Badosa is already a break up on Ferro. She’s 2-0 to the good in the first set.
Thank you for indulging me there, but that was a genuinely touching ceremony after an amazing match we witnessed between Tsonga and Ruud.
OK, back to the live tennis. Andrey Rublev came back from a set down to beat Kwon Soon-woo, while Frances Tiafoe is two set up on Benjamin Bonzi but a break down in the third set.
Mayar Sherif served expertly to come through against Marta Kostyuk, and Halep’s match against Schunk – having seen their match delayed from yesterday and all day today – should finally get underway in a few minutes on Court Simonne-Mathieu.
Now, Tsonga comes to the mic:
“Today is a big day. A day that I say goodbye. I’d like to thank everyone that’s come with me on this adventure. I had the luck and the opportunity to do all of this. It’s been amazing to be part of a wonderful generation of French players.”
He thanks his family, his coaches, the federation, the sponsors.
“I wanted to show resilience from a young age. I’m going to stay the person I am, and stay active, and do that as well as I can. I’ve had fabulous days and some that have not been so good. I’m a French play, I’m a Swiss player, I’m a Congolese player, I’m a black player, I’m a white player.
I’m now standing in front of you without my racket along with my best friends of 30 years. Thank you Noura for being alongside me. My family are now my priority. Thank you tennis. I love you.
Gilles Simon, who is just about to go out on court against Pablo Carreño Busta, is the next to come out. Simon will also retire today, apparently, if he loses. Now comes Benoît Paire, Gasquet and Gael Monfils. All of them warmly embrace Tsonga.
Now come the video messages from a few familiar faces:
Andy Murray: “I always loved watching you play and competing against you. All the best, mate.”
Novak Djokovic: “Jo is one of the most charismatic players ever to play the game. It’s a big loss for professional men’s tennis. He should be happy about his achievements.”
Rafa Nadal: “I’m sad to see him going but we’re getting old!”
Roger Federer: “Congratulations, Jo. It was a pleasure to play against you, even to lose against you. All the best for the future. Enjoy the moment in Paris with your friends and family.”
Oh god, here come mum and dad, and his brother and sister. I’ve gone. Lastly, his wife Noura and their two children.
It seems there will be an official presentation for Tsonga. Amélie Mauresmo, the former grand slam winner and now the French Open director, comes out on court, as do a few of Tsonga’s former coaches, even the ones from his childhood. All of them seem to have a very special bond with the 37-year-old. This is genuinely moving.
Ruud is the first to be interviewed:
A great match. I don’t want to talk about that, I want to talk about Jo. It’s sad for me to talk. You’ve been an inspiration to me and so many other players around the world. Thank you for all the memories.
Ruud is crying as he talks.
He’s such a nice guy on and off the court and a perfect example of how a tennis player should be. It’s been an honour to watch him.
Over a minute’s applause for the Frenchman, who gave the No 8 seed the fright of his life today. Who knows if he would have gone on to serve the fourth set out? Probably, but we’ll never know.
Tsonga is out, and his career is over. A hug from Ruud for Tsonga at the net. Tsonga falls to his knees and thanks the crowd. What a moment.
Tsonga is done. He can’t hit the ball properly. Ruud canters to 3-0 up. This is surely the end of Tsonga’s career. He is battling bravely on, but every shot is hit with a wince of pain. He’s operating at around 30% power. Tsonga even resorts to hitting a shot left handed, such is the discomfort. But nobody is laughing. It’s a desperately sad way to bring the curtain down on this wonderful match, and on a brilliant career. Ruud is ruthless, and gets to 6-0. Six match points. A change of ends. The crowd rise. Tsonga is in tears. I’ve got something in my eye as well.
He’s going to give it a go! Tsonga is back on court, and Ruud takes his place. I forgot to mention, Ruud did win that game, in which Tsonga was injured. So we’re into a tie-break.
Tsonga gets a medical time-out. The trainer rubs some sort of gel into his shoulder. Tsonga is smiling, at least. The tears have temporarily subsided. Ruud has left the court, either to have a hit on one of the practice courts, or to go to the loo. It’s unclear whether Tsonga will continue.
I think Tsonga is injured. He can barely serve. What has happened?! It’s not clear, but something must have gone on that changeover. The court falls deathly quiet. Tsonga bashes his forehead with his palm in frustration. Oh no, this is not the way it should end. Tsonga resorts to an underarm serve, such is the pain he is in. I think it’s his shoulder. What a desperate moment for this to happen, just as he was serving for the fourth set.
Tsonga breaks! Oh, my days. What is happening?! Tsonga, ranked 297 in the world, is one service game away from a fifth set against the No 8 in the world. This was meant to be jsut a nice farewell. Tsonga leads 6-5 and has a chance to tie the match at two sets all. New balls, and Tsonga picks up a new racket on the changeover. La Marseillaise rings around Chatrier. Goosebumps.
Oh no! At 40-0 up, Tsonga tries another drop shot when a simple forehand winner would have sufficed and Ruud roars back to make it deuce. I’m not certain but I think there are tears in Tsonga’s eyes. Emotions running high in what could be his final game. but then … wow! Two absolute rockets serves sees Tsonga close out his service game for 5-5! Tsonga gestures to the crowd, throwing his arms in celebration. Chatrier is rocking!
Back we go to Chatrier. Tsonga is just about still in this, and rallies to make it 4-4. A few more errors coming into Ruud’s game. We’ve nearly had three and a half hours and if anything, Tsonga is looking the more energised. Can his body hold up, though?
Brit watch: Raducanu’s second-round match against Aliaksandra Sasnovich will be first up on Lenglen tomorrow. Cam Norrie will be second on Court Six. He plays Jason Kubler, who you can read about here.
This is not limited to Ruud, but it never fails to amaze me how good professional tennis players are at returning. Like, Tsonga is out here hitting hammers from corner to corner, and Ruud simply scurries around the back of the court, slicing each one back into play. I know not every player moves like Ruud, but still.
Tsonga serve and volleys magnificently to seal his service game. It’s 2-2, this match is by no means done and dusted.
Two matches have just started in the men’s draw: Alex de Minaur, No 19 seed here, is underway against Hugo Gaston (3-1 up to the Australian), while Frances Tiafoe has beaten Benjamin Bonzi to the first set on Court Simonne-Mathieu.
Massive kick on Ruud’s second serve, as the Norwegian holds for a 2-1 lead in the fourth. The Wilson balls used here have a lot more bounce than the Babalat ones, that were the ball of the French Open until 2020. From memory there was an 8cm differential between Nadal’s average stroke and the height of his stroke last year. That’s a huge deal higher.
Kalinskaya closed out that second set against Keys 6-3. We’re into a third and final set there.
Tsonga’s father, Didier, is having a lovely time in the stands. His smile is as wide as the Seine. He must be very proud of his son.
Tsonga is absolutely leathering the ball with his forehand. A few winners. A lost of errors. Fair play, the lad is going for it but this feels like last-chance saloon. One-nil down in the fourth set, Tsonga saves a break point and closes out the game with a couple of neat volleys to make it 1-1.
Somebody in the crowd has produced a trumpet from somewhere in an attempt to rouse the subdued supporters. Gael Monfils looks on pensively.
Ruud has taken control of this third set and is now two sets to one up on Tsonga. You have to applaud the way that he’s handled the pressure and the crowd. Tsonga’s footwork and energy has sort of deserted him, and Ruud has been there to pick up the pieces. Steady, rather than spectacular, but his errors have been few and far between.
Kalinskaya has come back into it against Keys. After losing the first set 6-3, the Russian is 5-2 up in the second set.
Should mention, Halep’s match with Shunk has been pushed back to 4.40pm BST, although that’s just an estimate.
The crowd find their voice, and so does Tsonga, now grunting as he powers his way to break point. But another sloppy error lets Ruud get to deuce. That’s 41 unforced errors for the Frenchman, with just 15 to Ruud. Ruud closes out the game nicely with a gorgeous drop shot and another wayward Tsonga forehand. Forty-two unforced errors now. That’s 4-1 to the Norwegian.
Ah. The MBMers’ curse. After saving break point with a smash to get to deuce, Tsonga double faults to hand the advantage to Ruud, and the Norwegian capitalises! Ruud rips an in-out forehand cross court and Tsonga doesn’t have the mobility to get racket on ball! Ruud breaks! He’s 3-1 up in the third.