LONDON (Reuters) - For a man with a passing resemblance to boxing great Muhammad Ali, France’s Jo-Wilfried Tsonga proved a consummate fighter as he recovered from a low blow to punch his way off the ropes and push Andy Murray hard in his Wimbledon semi-final on Friday.
The powerfully built Frenchman collapsed on Centre Court as he served for the third set in his 6-3 6-4 3-6 7-5 defeat, struck in the groin region by a thumping Murray shot while trying to duck and dive at the net.
After a lengthy pause, the world number six dragged himself up from the turf to serve out the set and he went mighty close to stretching the contest to a fifth set before eventually being counted out in the fourth.
“I will have a revenge one time,” was Tsonga’s lighthearted response to being sent to the canvass midway through the scrap.
The Frenchman had to battle a partisan crowd who rallied behind Murray’s bid to become the first British man to reach a Wimbledon final since 1938, but he still endeared himself to the home support with his all-action displays and winning smile.
He will not, however, be tuning in to watch the tournament’s final round, when Murray faces Roger Federer on Sunday.
“For me, it’s finish,” said Tsonga after losing in the semi-final for the second year running.
“I will be on holiday. I have a little niece. She’s two years old and I saw her only two times. So I will take some time to enjoy the other part of my life.”
Reporting by Toby Davis; editing by Martyn Herman