There are a lot of factors to discuss after today’s monumental upset at The Championships at Wimbledon. Some writers will focus on the rise of Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga to the national stage. Some will analyze Roger Federer’s second straight quarterfinal collapse. Others will wonder whether or not this opens a door for someone else — a rightful perspective. But perhaps this also tells us something about the bigger picture of men’s tennis — something that both players were talking about after the match.
For those who missed it, Tsonga knocked Federer out of Wimbledon today with a five set victory, rallying behind from two sets down 3-6, 6-7 (3), 6-4, 6-4, 6-4. Federer was on fire and Tsonga was playing well, but just not enough. That’s usually the story in games against one of the few elite players in men’s tennis. There are certainly other top-ranked competitors, but when it comes down to it, you can expect Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic or Rafael Nadal to stand at the end of the tournament.
Notice Federer’s parting words as he was outplayed at All Tennis this morning, “It’s kind of hard going out of the tournament that way, but unfortunately it does happen sometimes. At least it took him sort of a special performance to beat me, which is somewhat nice.”
Tsonga agreed with Federer’s words, because he also realizes the greater theme at work in men’s tennis. “I just played unbelievable, served unbelievable and now I’m here, I’m in semifinal and I can’t believe it.”
The story of men’s tennis at this stage is that it’s an elitist realm at the top. It takes a very talented player like Tsonga playing at an “unbelievable” level in every single facet of his game to even knock out a player like Nadal or Federer. The challenger knows it. The champion knows it. To be able to string multiple unbelievable performances together like Tsonga will have to do to win Wimbledon has far less chance of happening than most people know it — those who will look at this victory and say, “See it can be done.”
Sure, it can be. On the rarest of days when the elements are in place and the game is at an unbelievable level. Those are the conditions to beat one of today’s elite players in men’s tennis and it’s major news when it happens. The big story of the day continues to be the story of every day for the last several years — the elite are still elite, even when they lose.