Whether due to belief, pity or inevitability, few people criticized Jo-Wilfried Tsonga for failing to convert four match points against Novak Djokovic in Tuesday's quarterfinal match. It was generally accepted that Djokovic won those points. Tsonga didn't lose them. When the No. 1 player in the world hits a bold overhead that sails through the air and skips off a line on match point, further cementing his reputation as a fearless competitor when all is on the line, the vanquished gets forgotten.
Rafael Nadal thinks otherwise. The world No. 2, who was probably pulling as hard for Tsonga as the French crowd at Court Philippe Chatrier, commented this week that Tsonga made two major mistakes on two of the four match points.
"Tsonga played fantastic for moments. He was a little bit unlucky, that's true. But he had two mistakes in two match points, important ones. The first was a passing shot with his backhand. He hit the ball probably in the worst place to hit, against the forehand volley of the opponent. So his chances was volley and backhand, not forehand, in my opinion, but is very difficult in that moment, no. After, he hit the ball to the net with his forehand with another match point. It probably wasn't the right ball to hit. He had to wait a little bit for another one. But that's the sport. Both players deserve to win. Djokovic saved a lot, fighted a lot, and he maintained his focus. So anyone would be the right winner, but finally it was Novak. Well done."
That's more critique than criticism. Rafa isn't badmouthing Jo-Willy; he's pointing out that Djokovic had a little help in saving those match points and advancing to Friday's semifinal showdown with Roger Federer.