Ascione (Tsonga coach): “We will make Jo cry like a baby”

With Enzo Tsonga, Jo-Wilfried’s younger brother, the Frenchman’s coach Thierry Ascione attended his player’s final press conference in Monte-Carlo on Monday night. Very moved, he then wanted to return to his personal journey alongside a charismatic player who will end his career at Roland-Garros. Ten years of life together, it marks…

Thierry, how did he tell you it would be the end?

It was a thought he had had for some time. When I was by his side for a very long time, I saw his pain, also his questions… During Miami, when I was in Paris, he called me and said to me: ‘Listen, I think it’s time.’ And still he wants to play. There he just lost against Cilic and collapsed like five years ago. Then there was this video. He wanted to make it easy. Well, there are only three tournaments left…

What was your pleasure traveling with him?

Everything, the daily routine, the ambition he had. We were fortunate to have an incredible team that we still work with. I am also grateful to him for trusting me. I tried not to make too much nonsense. I couldn’t do more than I did. With my qualities and my mistakes. It was an incredible story. Especially since everything we do will continue (Editor’s note: the construction of an academy in Lyon, near the Grand Stade, has started).

The countdown is running…

It’s a lot of emotion, he’s doing pretty well, better than me. The key is to be competitive and have fun. I just hope it turns out well, that he can play in front of a lot of people, that he’ll be happy. The page is turned and sealed. So the priority is not to hurt yourself. There he will remain here in the south. We’ll be training in the middle of the Dodger for two weeks. It just needs the output to be as big as the input.

He will leave extraordinary stats…

He was ambitious. A round of 16 Grand Slam was considered a disaster. After nine months I said to him: ‘We’re going to stop. Look, they all take Becker, Edberg’. He replied: “Don’t worry, we will make it”. It’s that famous summer of 2014 when he won Toronto by beating four top 10s. He’s an extraordinary guy. I grew up a man. He helped me gain confidence.

“He is who he is thanks to the hundred and fifty people he met”

Jo doesn’t want to know what you’ll have in store for her at Roland-Garros…

I have to make him cry like a baby! We’re preparing things, but he won’t know anything. There are many people he loves. He deserves it. He made many people happy. On his way he met many people. He is who he is thanks to the hundred and fifty people he has met. These people deserve to live this moment with him.

He will leave quite a gap and we fear the domino effect…

I’ve been telling you for a while that when they stop, you’ll freak out. I had picked up a small tackle elsewhere. We must mourn for this generation. When all four were in the Grand Slam quarterfinals, we thought that was normal. But actually not. I felt it when they arrived. They claimed they wanted to be in the 10. I told myself they had the Boulard. But no… It’s a bit of sadness for everyone.

What was special about him?

Jo has a natural charisma. He had that big brother paternal side. It was a bit the boss, but without wanting to. He never opened his mouth. It was Gaël who said he was a role model. That’s it. He had his quiet life, he was one of the first to get married and have children. someone easy So I wanted to shake him, ‘You’re a star man! do nonsense. But no, he’s a healthy guy. He playfully got the crowd going when he played well.

Interview by Eric Salliot

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