Wimbledon 2012: all you need to know about Jo-Wilfried Tsonga

Ahead of tomorrow afternoon's semi-final, here's the lowdown on Andy Murray's French opponent

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Tomorrow afternoon a nation will unite in front of their TV screens to watch British hopeful Andy Murray take on booming Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the semi-finals of Wimbledon.

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This will be Murray’s fourth consecutive semi-final, but this time his path is not blocked by his nemesis, Nadal. Expectations will be high when he steps out on Centre Court, but his fifth-seeded opponent is no walkover.

So, who is Jo-Wilfried Tsonga? Well, Radio Times has anticipated that very question… Here is the lowdown on the Frenchman standing in the way of Murray’s maiden Wimbledon final: 

Playing History

*27-year-old Tsonga’s first notable senior victory came against Tim Henman – he beat the former British number one in his final ever Grand Slam match in the second round of the US Open back in 2007

*His first major breakthrough onto the tennis scene came in 2008 when, as an unseeded player, he reached the final of the Australian Open, knocking out then world number two Rafael Nadal in straight sets, before losing to Novak Djokovic in the final

*He became the first player to fight back from two sets down to beat six-time champion Roger Federer in the quarter-finals at last year’s Wimbledon

*This is the second consecutive year he has reached the semi-finals at the All England Club, previously losing to 2011 champion Djokovic

*He came within inches of a maiden semi-final at his home tournament, Roland Garros, this year when he squandered four match points against eventual finalist, Djokovic

*Tsonga trails his head-to-head with Murray 5-2 – the Brit has won the last four meetings, including last year’s Queen’s final in three sets

*Tsonga currently sits two ranking spots behind Murray at no. 6

Style of Play

*Tsonga’s powerful weapons are a booming serve and top-spin forehand, and he is one of the few players left in the game to still utilize the serve-and-volley approach

*He is well known for his inventive style of play, often throwing himself around the court, grinning and laughing to the delight of the crowds who cheer him on

Interesting Trivia

*Tsonga’s nickname is “Ali” because of his facial resemblance to the American boxer

*He hails from a sporting family – his Congolese father moved to France in the 1970s to play handball, and two of his cousins are professional footballers – Charles N’Zogbia plays for Aston Villa and Mael Lepicier has represented Congo

*Tsonga has been without a coach for the last 15 months, choosing instead to keep in regular contact with veteran tennis greats. He regularly natters on the phone to former Roland Garros champ Yannick Noah as well as past heroes Andre Agassi, Pat Rafter and Arnaud Clement

*In this year’s Wimbledon tournament, he did not drop a single service game in the first three rounds – that’s an astonishing 73 holds! He has only dropped three sets en route to the semi-finals

*Following his defeat at Roland Garros in June, Tsonga announced “it’s time for a cup of tea”, a comment sure to win him an adoring English fan base

*The charismatic Frenchman is perhaps most famous for his jubilant victory dance which follows every win. I could describe it, but words don’t quite do it justice, so here’s the man himself after his famous defeat of Roger Federer in last year’s Wimbledon quarter-finals:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jcXNs7odqfE

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All of Britain will be praying he doesn’t have a chance to perform his twirls tomorrow afternoon…