One of the most impressive team combinations at Hyundai Hopman Cup in 2014, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Alize Cornet will bring Gallic flair and flamboyance to Perth Arena as they try to win the cup for France for the very first time.
Not that the French haven’t been successful before. Finalists in 1998 (represented by Cedric Pioline and Mary Pierce) and 2012 (Richard Gasquet and Marion Bartoli), they’ve come very close to snaring the silverware and the highly-sought diamond-encrusted tennis balls.
But with a new duo in Tsonga and Cornet – seeded third – the French may have found their secret to success.
Tsonga, making his second straight appearance at the mixed teams event, is certainly hopeful of a strong performance. Finally free from the knee injury which forced his withdrawal from Wimbledon and the US Open and dogged him for the second half of 2013, Perth could indeed provide the platform from which to launch himself into the very upper reaches of the game.
“The injury is behind me,” he told the West Australian in a recent interview.
“The doctors told me that it would be five months before it was completely back to normal and we are approaching this mark.
“I am working towards this goal (of winning a major) and will always try my hardest. My goals for 2014 are first to be injury free and then to play a role in the big events against the top guys.”
Tsonga has a history of performing well Down Under, and the Australian Open could indeed be the place where he brings his best tennis to the court against the very best in the game.
The Frenchman enjoyed his breakout performance at Melbourne Park with a sensational run to the final in 2008, and since that time, has been a mostly permanent fixture within the top 10. He peaked at world No.5 in February 2012.
And a repeat performance is not out of the question, especially if the powerful, athletic 28-year-old gains some valuable match practice and confidence through a successful Hopman Cup campaign.
“My experience last year was great,” Tsonga said.
“The Arena, the fans and everything surrounding the event made it special and thus I wanted to come back. It is a great preparation for Melbourne and I really enjoyed spending 10 days in Perth.”
Tsonga will team with Cornet, making her second appearance in Perth after debuting at the Hopman Cup in 2009.
The Frenchwoman is ranked No.27 after her best season on tour in five years; the 23-year-old won the claycourt title on home soil in Strasbourg in May 2013 and rose from outside the top 40 to her current mark. She also reached the third round at Roland Garros, Wimbledon and Flushing Meadows, in both Paris and New York stretching Victoria Azarenka to three sets.
Cornet has been ranked as high at No.11 (February 2009) and fans in Perth will get to see a charismatic player with great hands and exceptional court movement on the way back to her very best form.
France will open its Hyundai Hopman Cup campaign against Czech Republic on Monday night; get your tickets to see Tsonga and Cornet in action.