When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

LES ECHOS

Thirty Years After Yannick Noah, France's New Reason For Hope At Roland Garros

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga knocked off Roger Federer to advance to the semi-finals of the French Open. Can history repeat itself?

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga revives French hopes of Roland Garros glory
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga revives French hopes of Roland Garros glory
Bruno Lesprit

PARIS – After his quarterfinal win over Roger Federer at the French Open, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga hugged Federer and congratulated the Swiss legend. “Thanks for letting me win this time,” Tsonga said.

Then the French top player came back to center of the court to celebrate reaching the French Open semifinals for the first time in his career. He performed his signature victory dance — thumbs pointing to his back while spinning across the court — as the crowd chanted his name “Tsonga! Tsonga!” This battle cry drowned out the shouts of “Roger!,” the other darling of the Parisian spectators at Roland Garros Stadium, and the Swiss flags were quietly put away.

Tsonga's trademark victory dance

Supporters chant Tsonga’s Congolese family name, and why wouldn’t they? “Jo-Wilfried” doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue. He hopes to hear it up until the final match Sunday. “I don’t know what more to wish for, these days,” Tsonga said after his win. “I play really well. I want to shout, I want to jump around, but I have to stay focused. I really think I can do this.”

The thought of victory is now the most shared fantasy in French sports at the moment, and it might just come true for Tsonga. Because what the man from the northwest city of Le Mans did on the court against Federer showed that he deserves a shot at the first title for a Frenchman since the one captured exactly 30 years ago by tennisman-turned-singer Yannick Noah.

France's Sports Minister Valérie Fourneyron sees in Tsonga “a maturity in technique, an appetite for victory and a determination to write a new page in the book of French tennis history, and for that, he deserves respect.”

He got some advice from Federer himself, who finally won his first title at Roland Garros in 2009. “Jo must keep his aggressive style, he must keep believing that he can do it and let the audience bring him up and hope that everything falls into place.”

Next on tap is David Ferrer, who rolled over his fellow Spaniard Tommy Robredo (6-2, 6-1, 6-1) and sent a few shivers down the backs of spectators. Fans quickly realized that the No. 4 player would be a whole new kind of adversary, as Ferrer is the other player besides Tsonga not to have lost a set so far.

Ferrer lost in the semifinals to Rafael Nadal in 2012, but the Valencian said that “having to play against Jo is not better or worse than playing against Rafa. I’ll have to play long, and a lot on his backhand, and I will need to serve better than that.” Tsonga, meanwhile, has described Ferrer as “a very tenacious player who covers a lot of ground,” someone who is very quick. “But I know that I can beat him,” Tsonga said. “I have the means to do that."

Though he resembles a young Muhammed Ali, people compare this year’s great French hope with Noah, who won over the hearts of the nation in 1983. Tsonga, like Noah before him, is the No. 6 seed. They both took out the No. 3-ranked player. And both were born of a mixed couple: teacher mom and African father skilled in team sports (handball for Didier Tsonga, soccer for Zachary Noah).

Tsonga clarified all the comparisons: “My relation with Yannick? When he sings, I dance.”

You've reached your monthly limit of free articles.
To read the full article, please subscribe.
Get unlimited access. Support Worldcrunch's unique mission:
  • Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.
  • Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries
  • $2.90/month or $19.90/year. No hidden charges. Cancel anytime.
Already a subscriber? Log in

When the world gets closer, we help you see farther

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!
Geopolitics

One By One, The Former Soviet Republics Are Abandoning Putin

From Kazakhstan to Kyrgyzstan, Armenia and Tajikistan, countries in Russia's orbit have refused to help him turn the tide in the Ukraine war. All (maybe even Belarus?) is coming to understand that his next step would be a complete restoration of the Soviet empire.

Leaders of Armenia, Russia, Tajikistan, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan attend a summit marking the 30th anniversary of signing the Collective Security Treaty in Moscow on May 16.

Oleksandr Demchenko

-Analysis-

KYIV — Virtually all of Vladimir Putin's last remaining partner countries in the region are gone from his grip. Kazakhstan, Armenia, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan have refused to help him turn the tide in the Ukraine war, because they've all come to understand that his next step would be a complete restoration of the empire, where their own sovereignty is lost.

Stay up-to-date with the latest on the Russia-Ukraine war, with our exclusive international coverage.

Sign up to our free daily newsletter.

Before zooming in on the current state of relations in the region, and what it means for Ukraine's destiny, it's worth briefly reviewing the last 30 years of post-Soviet history.

The Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) was first created in 1992 by the Kremlin to keep former republics from fully seceding from the former Soviet sphere of influence. The plan was simple: to destroy the local Communist elite, to replace them with "their" people in the former colonies, and then return these territories — never truly considered as independent states by any Russian leadership — into its orbit.

In a word - to restore the USSR.

Keep reading...Show less

When the world gets closer, we help you see farther

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!
You've reached your monthly limit of free articles.
To read the full article, please subscribe.
Get unlimited access. Support Worldcrunch's unique mission:
  • Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.
  • Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries
  • $2.90/month or $19.90/year. No hidden charges. Cancel anytime.
Already a subscriber? Log in
Writing contest - My pandemic story
THE LATEST
FOCUS
TRENDING TOPICS

Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

Yet one month on, a quick look at the map shows that many of the worst-hit cities are those where Russian is the predominant language: Kharkiv, Odesa, Kherson.

Watch VideoShow less
MOST READ