There may be a few players on tour with better sportmanship than Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, but none immediately come to mind. After defeating Grigor Dimitrov in four sets on Thursday, the No. 12 seed lept over the net, helped the young Bulgarian up from the court (above) and embraced him as they walked to the chair umpire, whispering words of encouragement and affectionately patting him on the shoulder all the way.
Lest you think Tsonga is the kind of athlete whose graciousness is contingent on victory, he's equally sportsmanlike in defeat, as he showed last month after blowing a lead to Stanislas Wawrinka at the French Open.
The Frenchman can also turn on the charm during a match. Leading two sets to one, but trailing in the fourth set against Dimitrov, Tsonga exchanged in a thrilling rally with the 20-year-old that ended when Dimitrov lunged for a volley and fell to the court. Tsonga's momentum had brought him over to his opponent's side of the net at the end of the point. Once there, he greeted Dimitrov as he arose and the two exchanged an unlikely low five, right in the middle of a tense moment of the match:
(Note: The title of the YouTube clip says Dimitrov won the point. He didn't; the ball bounced before he got his racquet on it.)
There was only one downside to this: After it happened, it was hard to root for either play to win. You didn't want either to lose.
Tsonga would go on to win the match, 6-7 (4), 6-4, 6-4, 7-6 (8).
- Grigor Dimitrov