Emotional Tsonga inspired by family in Paris title triumph
Paris - Jo-Wilfried Tsonga will carry the emotional strength of his family into the season-ending championship in China next week after booking the final spot in the field with a title at the Paris Masters on Sunday.
The Australian Open finalist couldn't hide his tearful emotions as he completed the eight-man line-up in Shanghai with his 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 defeat of David Nalbandian to win the last event of the regular ATP season.
"I was thinking about many things," said the 23-year-old. "I imagined my grandparents watched me, my grandmother. I believe all the people who loved me watched me, and I'm thinking about them.
"(This victory) is thanks to the people who are not there anymore. They are really carrying me, and in tough moments I'm thinking about them. It helps me to go forward."
Tsonga will break into the ranking Top 10 for the first time.
With Gilles Simon on now also among the elite it will mark the first time since October 3, 1988 two French players stood in the Top 10 (Yannick Noah, eighth, Henri Leconte, 10th).
Tsonga will join Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Nikolay Davydenko, Andy Roddick and Juan Del Potro in China.
Nadal is hoping to be fit after a knee injury forced him from his quarter-final while Federer also withdrew on "Black Friday" with back pain.
Tsonga's win kept Nalbandian out of the Shanghai field. But the Argentine had said that the Davis Cup final in three weeks interests him more than a long trip to China followed by a dash to home to face Spain.
"He served better than me, that was pretty much the key of the match," said Nalbandian. "I think I didn't play bad, but I didn't play like the other days.
"I didn't have very good start, and he won the first set so easily, so fast. Then, everything was hard for me."
Fired-up Tsonga, who has played like a conquering hero in front of his home public all week, notched four of his 25 aces in the eight game of the second set, saving three break points to serve his way out of danger.
The winner said that with his parents and coaches watching, he drew strength to earn the biggest trophy of his career two months after winning Bangkok.
"I was looking to my group, my clan, and I thought, 'Now you have to support me and you have to be with me.'
"I was trying to pump myself up. I said, It's not over. I can do it. After each point I was thinking, 'Hey, you're strong. You need to win this title for all the people who are supporting you and thinking for you and help you every day.'"
Tsonga revealed that he played through physical problems during the best week of his life on court.
"In the beginning of the tournament, I had pain everywhere, but I was not talking about it. I was lucky enough to be able to play and fight for my chances even with the pain.
"At the end of the match I felt a lot better. I played exactly like I had to. I didn't do extraordinary things. It's not when you do lucky shots that you win. It's when you think about your shots." dpa