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The Last Time... Jo-Wilfried Tsonga

Australian Open 2009

Jo-Wilfried TsongaGetty ImagesJo-Wilfried Tsonga flies the French flag at the Australian Open in Melbourne, the site of his 2008 Grand Slam breakthrough.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga talks about [almost] meeting his childhood hero Pat Rafter and the moments when being a celebrity can be an advantage.

I hired a tennis court?
I was 12 years old and was on holiday with my parents in Bretagne (Brittany) in France, near the Atlantic. They paid, so I’m not sure how much it was.

I met a childhood hero?
Last week in Brisbane I saw Pat Rafter. He was always one of my favourite players. I was outside the court while he was on the court playing with someone from the crowd. I was like ‘Oh!’ But I didn't actually get a chance to say hello and shake his hand.

I cooked for myself?
Just before I left Paris for the Australian tournaments. It was just some pasta and meat. I like cooking.

I shared a hotel room with another player?
A long time ago. Even when I was like 400 in the world I always preferred to be alone in the room. I like my privacy.

I played a competitive sport other than tennis?
I played a lot of football and basketball with a club back when I was about 13 years old. More football than basketball.

I was asked if I was a tennis player?
Yesterday in the street in Sydney. They said ‘Are you a tennis player?’ and I said ‘Yes, I am’. And this morning I saw some little boys at the tennis and they ask me ‘Are you James Blake?’

Being recognised helped me?
Yesterday I was at a restaurant in front of the Opera House and they gave me a good table with a very nice view.

I broke a string in a match?
Last week in Brisbane against Nieminen. I think because of the long rallies. But last year I didn’t break many strings at all.

I visited a country for the first time?
Thailand, when I went to Bangkok for the Thailand Open. We called it the country of smiles because everyone had a smile on their face.

I asked someone for their autograph?
I was never into collecting autographs.

I forgot something important?
I forgot about a press conference in Paris, when 50 journalists were waiting for me. I was shopping for clothes while they were all waiting. I arrived one hour late. It was a press conference at the end of December.

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