By John Delong, special to EmiratesUSOpenSeries.com??
WINSTON-SALEM - Jo-Wilfried Tsonga still sports a nasty-looking cut on his right leg as a result of a freak accident in Toronto two weeks ago.?
But after falling to John Isner 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (3) in the semifinals of the Winston-Salem Open on Friday afternoon, the World No. 6 said that the leg is feeling better every day and it should be just fine for the US Open.?
"It looks better and better every day," Tsonga said. "It was worse a few days ago. I don’t feel pain, I don’t feel any signs, so it is good."?
The World No. 6 will face a qualifier in the first round at Flushing Meadow, in the same quarter of the draw as Andy Murray.?
"It is always good to play against a qualifier anyway, but yeah, I’m happy with my draw," he said. "I will have a good US Open. I accomplished a lot this week. One of my goals here was playing some matches to get ready for the US Open, so this was good for me. So I will go there and I will be anxious to start the tournament in good shape."?
Tsonga, who defeated Thomasz Bellucci, Sergiy Stakhovsky and Marcel Granollers in reaching the semifinals, was the victim of 24 Isner aces and the slightest of errors on Friday afternoon. The third-set tiebreaker started swinging Isner’s way when Tsonga missed a forehand wide for a minibreak to put Isner up 2-0. Tsonga challenged, and the ball was out by just millimeters.?
"Of course it’s tough to play John from behind in a tiebreak," Tsonga said. "You know if he breaks you on the first one it’s going to be hard."?
Still, the 27-year-old Frenchman, who missed Cincinnati because of the leg injury, was generally pleased with his play. He fought off nine break points over the course of the match, including three when he fought out of a love-40 hole in the fourth game of the third set.?
"I’m disappointed to lose this match, of course," he said. "It was a good match. Maybe not the most important match, but a good match. I played great, served well. I felt good when I broke in the second. But the way he played, he played good tennis. Maybe I can be a bit more aggressive, but he is tall and he can catch every ball and you never know where he’s going to play. So it’s tough."?
Tsonga, by the way, has spent the week taking lighthearted jabs at himself for the accident in Toronto, when he ran into a fire hydrant. He tweeted that Winston-Salem was a much safer city than Toronto.?
"I was supposed to go shopping and I was in the street," he said. "It was raining so I was close to the wall of many buildings, and I was walking and I don’t know where was my head at this moment, but I didn’t see the thing and I just hurt it. But I have recovered."?
He said he thoroughly enjoyed his time in Winston-Salem.?
"It was a good experience for me," he said. "I enjoyed the tournament. The facilities are great. I got good practice here and the conditions are quite the same as the US Open, so it was good for me to be here this week. For sure it’s not the most entertaining city, but you know, it’s good because New York is going to be something different."