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Tsonga leaps, stretches, lunges in Australian Open comeback

January 17, 2018

France's Jo-Wilfried Tsonga celebrates his win over Canada's Denis Shapovalov during their second round match at the Australian Open tennis championships in Melbourne, Australia, Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2018. (AP Photo/Dita Alangkara)

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — In a match between shot-makers new and old, this time the young kid was ultimately given a tennis lesson by the flashy veteran.

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga casually hit a between-the-legs shot that kept him in a winning point, lunged with one of his patented stretch forehands for a winner, and generally provided the Margaret Court Arena crowd with 3 hours, 37 minutes of premium entertainment at the Australian Open on Wednesday.

On the losing end was Denis Shapovalov, an 18-year-old Canadian who led 5-2 in the fifth set before losing his second-round match 3-6, 6-3, 1-6, 7-6 (4), 7-5 to the 32-year-old Frenchman who has a 10-minute YouTube video chronicling his “Most Amazing Moments.”

A few new shots may have to be added to the clip after Wednesday’s match.

“The most important thing for me was to fight, give my best on court until the last point,” Tsonga said. “That’s what I did today. I think he deserved to win also ... but I was also courageous and I did my job at the end. ”

The athletic Shapovalov, often compared with a younger Tsonga, had a few great moments of his own, including a shot around the net from the baseline for a winner.

“There’s always nerves in a tennis match,” Shapovalov said of the blown fifth-set lead. “I wasn’t thinking about it much. Just didn’t play a good game on my serve. Then he picked up his level. I’m just going to learn from it and keep going.”

Shapovalov netted the return of that “tweener” by Tsonga.

“It was a great get,” Shapovalov said. “It was an unbelievable shot, don’t get me wrong. I don’t think it threw me off.”

The result helped avenge the only time the players had met previously, at last year’s U.S. Open, when Shapovalov won in straight sets.

“For me, I think it was an advantage to play him for the second time because I knew he was able to do things, crazy things like he did today,” Tsonga said.

The win advances the 2008 finalist to the third round at Melbourne Park for the 10th time. He’s never lost a second-round match at the Australian Open.

In what could be one of the most entertaining matches of the third round, Tsonga will play Australia’s Nick Kyrgios, who beat Viktor Troicki in straight sets.

“He’s one of my idols,” said No. 17-seeded Kyrgios, who reached the 2014 Wimbledon quarterfinals at age 19 and ranked 144th. “I’m looking forward to going out there and battling it out with him.”

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