Alex De Minaur falls to resurgent Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in Brisbane quarters
Alex De Minaur would chase and scamper and sprint so fast and so far around Pat Rafter Arena on Friday night that he almost needed to Uber in a few new pairs of shoes from Footlocker to help him see out the match.
He did have a blow-out or two, fiddling with his footwear as he tried to recover between games against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, the rejuvenated Frenchman that would turn the clock back as he triumphed 6-4, 7-6 (7-2) to progress to the semi finals of the Brisbane International.
As has become his custom, De Minaur left nothing in the tank, with the seventh seed doing everything in his power to get past the 33-year-old, whose ranking of 239 was hardly an indication of his talents given he spent seven months of last year off the tour.
Tsonga had some good fortune in the draw when he dodged Rafael Nadal, who was a late injury withdrawal. But he played more like a top 20 player than one trying to climb back out of the 200s, smashing ridiculous winners off his forehand time and again while De Minaur clung on by the seat of his pants.
"I played a great match. He's a very good player, I knew it was going to be a battle. We have a completely different game, so you appreciate that," Tsonga said.
"It was good tennis. I'm just really happy with the way I played. Hopefully I'll be able to do better in the next round."
De Minaur doesn't have the weapons of a player like the imposing Tsonga but the 19-year-old still managed to lead 6-5 in the second set, before Tsonga held to take it to a tie break.
Experience would count for a great deal by that stage, with Tsonga's aggression paying off as he served strongly, then found the corners with some fearsome groundstrokes to progress to within one game of the final.
This was the tournament where De Minaur rose to fame last year and he will no doubt view this as a missed opportunity, especially given he didn't have to face a seeded player in the quarter finals.
But Tsonga is hardly a battler in the deep 200s and De Minaur was a touch unlucky to catch him on such a quality night as he powered ahead in his comeback.
De Minaur is scheduled to play the Sydney International next week. He reached the final of that event last year before losing to Russia's Daniil Medvedev, who will be Tsonga's semi-final opponent in Brisbane.