CINCINNATI: Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga crashed back down to earth in his opening match at the Cincinnati Masters on Tuesday, losing 6-1, 6-4 to Russian Mikhail Youzhny.
The 29-year-old 12th seed found himself back on court 48 hours after beating Roger Federer to win the title in Toronto, the second at the Masters 1000 level of his career.
But he failed to find the inspiration he had in Toronto — where he also beat Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray — with canny veteran Youzhny taking full advantage of the fragile emotional and physical state of last week’s champion.
“It’s never easy, you have to get used to the conditions really quick,” said Tsonga.
“I was not able to hit yesterday because the rainstorm.
“But that’s not the main thing. I just give everything on court, but I didn’t have enough today to compete at the good level.
“I gave everything last week. Before the match I believed I was able to play at a good level, but on the court I realised it’s gonna be impossible. And it was.
“I gave my best and it was tough.”The result leaves Tsonga with only one 2011 win in Cincinnati after three appearances at the last major tune-up prior to the US Open, which starts on August 25.
“I will take some rest and I will prepare dor the US Open. It will be a big challenge, but the Davis Cup will be important for me also after that.
“It’s going to be important to prepare all these events as good as possible.”
Youzhny broke Tsonga four times in just over an hour of play as the French player committed 21 unforced errors, with his game clearly a notch below his best which was on display at the weekend in Canada.
“I tried to fight every point,” said 32-year-old Youzhny.
Croatian 14th seed Marin Cilic advanced into the second round over Toronto semi-finalist Feliciano Lopez 6-3, 6-4 while British qualifier James Ward surprised Spaniard Guillermo Garcia-Lopez 6-2, 3-6, 6-1.
Canadian Vasek Pospisil rallied to put out Czech Radek Stepanek 5-7, 6-1, 7-6 (7/4) as wild card Robby Ginepri beat Dominic Thiem of Austria 6-3, 5-7, 7-5.
On the women’s side, Czech 16th seed Lucie Safarova knocked out Montreal finalist Venus Williams, 6-7 (2/7), 6-3, 6-4.
The 34-year-old Williams said that she faced a quick turnaround from Canada, where she lost the final to Agnieszka Radwanska and was not helped by an early match.
“Today I was even surprised at how much I was able to push myself, because I wasn’t sure how well I was going to be.
“I wish I could have felt today like I did the day on the final, just to have a little bit more to make it more competitive.”