Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France celebrates winning a point during his match with Borna Coric of Croatia on the third day of the Kooyong Classic tennis tournament in Melbourne on January 12, 2017. / AFP / WILLIAM WEST / IMAGE RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - STRICTLY NO COMMERCIAL USE        (Photo credit should read WILLIAM WEST/AFP/Getty Images)

Tsonga betters young Coric in Kooyong exhibition

Posted on January 12, 2017

A new season following an injury-plagued year is looking positive for Jo-Wilfried Tsonga with another solid win, this time against Croatian Borna Coric 6-3 7-6 at the 2017 Priceline Pharmacy Kooyong Classic.

The hot Melbourne sun again greeted players for day three of the tournament and the crowd was treated to a competitive contest between the Frenchman and 20-year-old prodigy as they prepared for the Australian Open.

“Yeah that’s what I needed,” Tsonga told reporters after the match.

“I played indoors last week and had three matches so it was good to play a match this week also to get ready for Monday or Tuesday.

“It’s quite similar conditions to the Melbourne Park, probably it’s going to be hot and for sure different than Doha but we get used to it slowly and anyway it’s good to be here and playing on court.”

The 31-year-old, who is currently ranked 12 in the world, hit the ball relatively cleanly in a match that lasted one hour and 19 minutes, including a lively second set that went to a tiebreak.

After battling with a knee injury last season the former world number 5 is very keen to improve on his ranking and play more consistently on the tour in 2017.

“Yeah last year was difficult for me, I didn’t play that much, just 13 or 14 tournaments so the challenge for me this year is to play a little bit more and to be able to have a better ranking,” Tsonga added.

“I want to be seeded in the big tournaments and then get some good results, the top ten naturally (is a goal) but the top eight if I can of course because you’re a little bit protected in the big tournaments.”

Tsonga has regularly played well at Melbourne Park, the venue where he had his best run at a Grand Slam title in 2008 when was a defeated by Novak Djokovic in the final.

“Not to play Nishikori first,” he laughed when asked what will bring him success next week.

“Because he beat me twice here, I was playing good and he beat me twice – I think I need to be in really good form and that’s most important for me.

“When I’m in good form I’m still really dangerous and can do some good things.”

Coric has risen sharply up the world rankings and was inside the top 50 players last year as a 19-year-old, making him the highest ranked teenager on the ATP Tour.

“Absolutely,” he said on the value of playing such a player like Tsonga before a Grand Slam.

“It was a very good match – in the first set I was struggling to return and I didn’t make I think one point on the first serve which was not so good.

“But I think everything else was very good, I was hitting it much better than in the first match that’s why I’m very happy.

“I still need to do some maybe small improvements for the Australian Open.”

Coric has been ranked as high as 33 in the world and has already claimed the scalp of new world number one Andy Murray, as well as two victories against Spanish star Rafael Nadal.

“Well you know I need to believe that but it’s going to be very tough it’s a five-set match,” Coric said when asked if he can beat anyone in a Grand Slam match.

“Of course anything can happen but I’m not a big favourite for sure.”

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