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Jo-Wilfried Tsonga has shown his class and compassion in the second round of the Australian Open, assisting a teary-eyed injured ball girl from Margaret Court Arena.
The Frenchman earned a round of applause from the crowd at Melbourne Park after rushing to the aid of the rattled girl, who had just been struck in the face by a ball during his match against Australian teenager Omar Jasika.
Tsonga realised the ball girl was in pain, walking over and wrapping his arms around her before walking off arm in arm alongside her in the final set of his comfortable victory.
The gesture lit up social media as Tsonga was touted a gentleman for his actions in the heat of battle.
“I didn’t know it was going to be something like this,” Tsonga said of the public reaction.
“It’s just normal. She was really in trouble and the eyes were a bit [teary]. It was just normal to help her to go out of the stadium. I hope she’s going well now. I asked the umpire during the game and she said it’s okay, but with the umpire you never know. I will double check if she’s well now.”
Tsonga said it took him a while to realise she wasn’t herself, eventually rushing to her side.
“At the start I thought she was normal, because she always send me ball on the side so I said ‘what’s happened with her’,” Tsonga said.
“After the second time I saw she was in trouble. I just came to her and helped her go out because she was in a bad [state].” A true gentleman @tsonga7 takes care of our #Aussie#WooliesBallKid lucky #Woolworths carries bags of frozen peas ! https://t.co/1dS2gcRJHA— 7Tennis (@7tennis) January 20, 2016
For the second time in two years, an 18-year-old Australian announced himself as a star of the future despite a second round exit from Melbourne Park.
Just like Nick Kyrgios did two years ago, Jasika put his name up in lights and gave Australia a taste of what’s to come, showing glimpses of brilliance before running out of steam to lose in three sets 7-5, 6-1, 6-4.
Inexperience, and a lack of physical and mental stamina, allowed Tsonga to come into his own after what was a confident start from the young Melburnian.
Jasika had several break point opportunities in the first set, including three in a single game, however he was unable to capitalise on the opening and allowed Tsonga to take a one-set advantage when it seemed a tie-break was beckoning.
The disappointment of losing the opening set appeared to deflate the young Australian, who lost his way in the second, blown out of the water with just a one game to his credit.
He showed resilience in the third set, but was no match for the seasoned Frenchman, who is 12 years his senior.
“He got 40 minutes of really good quality out of his game then it just dropped,” Todd Woodbridge said.
John Newcombe echoed Woodbridge’s sentiment during the call, saying: “It’s also dropped as the level of Tsonga’s picked up”.
“Omar’s game went off a little bit, trying a little bit too much as Tsonga played better.”
Jasika did well in his maiden grand slam, overcoming Illya Marchenko 6-4, 3-6, 6-0, 6-4 in round one to notch his first tour level victory.
The young lefthander has enjoyed plenty of junior success, winning the singles and doubles titles at the 2014 US Open. He joins compatriots Bernard Tomic (2009), and Pat Cash (1982), as former US Open junior champions.