speak­ing with Jo-Wil­fried Tsonga

The world No 12 re­flects on deal­ing with in­juries, his prepa­ra­tions for 2017, and work­ing with his Mubadala World Tennis Cham­pi­onship op­po­nent David Gof­fin on the prac­tice court.

The National - News - Sport - - LEADING OFF - Ahmed Rizvi

Ex­cited to get started

Plagued by in­juries through­out his ca­reer, Tsonga is ex­cited about start­ing the new sea­son at the Mubadala World Tennis Cham­pi­onship with­out any pain in his knees. The French­man, who faces David Gof­fin to­day in the first round of the com­pe­ti­tion in Abu Dhabi, is also sched­uled to be­come a fa­ther for the first time in April.

‘A good op­po­nent’

Of how he has built up to the 2017 sea­son, Tsonga said: “I have pre­pared re­ally well in the off sea­son, so I feel re­ally good. I had a few prac­tices with David Gof­fin in the last cou­ple of days. It’s nice to play with him be­cause he is now part of the best play­ers in the world. So, it’s good to have a good op­po­nent for prac­tice.”

Ex­pec­ta­tions raised

Af­ter a mixed 2016 in which his best ef­forts at a grand slam were quar­ter­fi­nal ap­pear­ances at Wim­ble­don and the US Open, Tsonga said: “To be hon­est, I feel am still young and feel­ing good. The end of 2016 was good for me, so that raises my ex­pec­ta­tions for 2017. Phys­i­cally I feel re­ally well, so I hope it’s go­ing to be a good year.”

‘I don’t have pain any­more’

On his in­juries, Tsonga said: “The past year was dif­fi­cult be­cause I had the prob­lem with my knee. I was com­ing back ev­ery time. My body bal­ance was not that good with this knee and it gave me a lot of trou­ble. It was dif­fi­cult. To­wards the end of last sea­son, the prob­lems with my knee came to an end. Now, I don’t have pain any­more.”

Feel­ing young

As to im­pend­ing fa­ther­hood, Tsonga said: “Men­tally, I feel good. It gives me con­fi­dence and also, I hope, happy things will come in April. That’s why I am feel­ing young as I have a new ob­jec­tive in life.”

/ The Na­tional

Mona Al Mar­zooqi

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