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Courageous Tsonga downs Ljubicic in Australian Open

Friday, January 23, 2009 , Posted by Linda at 11:14 AM

MELBOURNE, Jan 22, 2009 – Courageous fifth seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga survived a 195-minute marathon to down Croatian Ivan Ljubicic 6-7 (4/7), 7-6 (10/8), 7-6 (8/7), 6-2 in the second round of the Australian Open on Thursday.

Courageous Tsonga downs Ljubicic in Australian Open Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France serves during his men's singles match against Ivan Ljubicic of Croatia

In a high-quality match at the Hisense Arena, Tsonga and Ljubicic could barely be separated as they went toe-to-toe in an enthralling contest.

When it was over Tsonga was left nursing a bad back and Ljubicic had ice on his forearm as the gruelling contest left its mark on both players.

"I played really well out there," said the Frenchman, adding his back problem wasn't serious.

"I was proud of myself because I was very courageous today.

"You know, all the time I tried to think positive and say 'OK, keep going, keep going' all the time.

"Today I was a little bit lucky. But I did it with my heart. I think it's really good to win like that."

Tsonga, who enraptured local fans in his run to last year's final, had his work cut out from the moment he lost his second service game.

He broke back later but the big-serving Ljubicic outplayed him in the tie-break and took the early advantage.

Both men were serving superbly and it was no surprise when the next two sets went to tie-breaks.

Tsonga levelled the match when he took the second-set tie-break 10/8, bringing up set point with a cracking forehand down the line then blasting an ace.

He then saved three set points in the third-set tie-break before going ahead two sets to one on his first set point opportunity.

The fourth set started much the same way as both players comfortably won their first two service games and another tie-break beckoned.

But at 2-2 Tsonga suddenly attacked and broke Ljubicic to love.

"I was starting to feel a little bit tired but that was because of the score," the Croatian said.

"If you're two sets to one up you have more energy than when you're two sets to one down."

After breaking Ljubicic, Tsonga served out a solid game to go ahead 4-2, then broke again for 5-2.

The Frenchman showed no signs of nerves as he served out the match to set up a third-round clash with Israeli qualifier Dudi Sela.

A disappointed Ljubicic said he had let the match slip away.

"I had set points in the second and a few chances in the third, so to find yourself two sets to one down instead of maybe winning it is not easy," he said.

"But he really played some great tennis. He started a little bit slowly but once he got going he was really hard to play against."

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