Tsonga off to a rousing start

Tsonga off to a rousing start

With the May 23-June 6 French Open looming, the local favourite was his usual buoyant self for more than two hours as he overcame a misfiring first serve to knock out Almagro.
Tsonga gave a thrilled crowd the thumbs up as he twirled around the court after shaking his opponent's hand.

"With all these Spaniards in my part of the draw, I knew it would be complicated from the start," Tsonga told a reporter as the claycourt behind him was being watered down for Richard Gasquet's match against Czech Tomas Berdych.
Tsonga will next face either former French Open champion Juan Carlos Ferrero or German Benjamin Becker.

Tsonga was put on the back foot early on, saving seven break points in his first two service games. In the fourth game, he looked particularly upset after a couple of calls went against him and he quizzed umpire Carlos Bernardes loudly with the full backing of the roaring fans.

Bernardes refused to back down and within seconds an equally frustrated Almagro was also questioning the umpire after he felt he had been on the receiving end of a wrong line call.

Tsonga quickly put the episode behind him and as rain started to fall during the tiebreak, the Frenchman kept a cool head to bag it 7-5 with an exquisite crosscourt forehand winner. ?

Almagro's fellow Spaniard Fernando Verdasco had a more enjoyable outing on Tuesday and made quite an impression on a clueless Julien Benneteau, who surrendered 6-2, 6-1.
Gasquet followed Tsonga on to the main stage but barely allowed the court to get dry as he suffered an embarrassing 6-2, 6-0 defeat by Berdych.Croatian fourth seed Marin Cilic survived chilly weather and a bold challenge from Russian Igor Andreev to start his campaign with a 6-7, 6-1, 6-4 win.  Cilic fell behind after losing the first-set tiebreak 7-4 before finding better angles to unsettle Andreev on a windswept centre court.