Michael Burgess is the football and rugby league writer for the Herald on Sunday.

Tsonga loves first Auckland experience

Jo Wilfred Tsonga said he enjoyed his first match in Auckland a lot. Photo / Doug Sherring
Jo Wilfred Tsonga said he enjoyed his first match in Auckland a lot. Photo / Doug Sherring

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga loved his first experience of Auckland's ASB Classic - and it's fair to say the feeling was mutual.

Tsonga put on a grand show against Germany's Philipp Kohlschreiber on Wednesday night, beating the world No 32 with an entertaining and aggressive brand of tennis.

And the capacity crowd at Stanley St lapped it up, standing to applaud the 2008 Australian Open finalist after his 67-minute victory, the kind of performance that will fuel water cooler talk around Auckland offices today.

"I played good tennis," Tsonga said. "I'm enjoying being here, I'm feeling good and I am in good shape. I enjoyed it a lot. The people looked really into [it] so it was really nice to play in this game."

In his first full match of 2016 - after injury affected his only outing in Doha - Tsonga didn't disappoint. The 30-year-old produced everything you might see in the highlight reels - from powerful winners, sumptuous angled shots, deft volleys and precise passes.

"I broke at the start and then I was a little bit more relaxed," Tsonga said. "But then I was aggressive and didn't leave him another chance to come back in this game."

The world No 10 also enjoyed the unique Auckland atmosphere, with fine dining and drinking in the courtside hospitality boxes.

"To see all these [people] dining, having beer and champagne - I was a little bit jealous," Tsonga said, laughing. "But it's only a problem if someone is doing 'cheers' too loud."

Tonight Tsonga plays Italian sixth seed Fabio Fognini, a player with a similar penchant for entertainment and flair.

"It's going to be interesting," Tsonga said. "Fabio is playing better and better every year now. He's a really good player [and] also very funny. He's a good entertainer too, so when I play against him it's always good to watch ... I think we will have fun."

And so will the crowd, no doubt.

- NZ Herald

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