In an unusual act of cross-the-aisle solidarity, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga has decided to retire his trademark post-match spinning, hopping, gesticulating victory dance. Tsonga told reporters after his first round, four-set win over Denis Istomin in Melbourne, that upon hearing of Andrea Petkovic’s retirement of her “Petko Dance” celebration due to opponent disdain, he feels he needs to do likewise. The Australian Open will mark the last tournament in which Tsonga does his thing.
“I always liked Petko’s dance,” said the No. 6 seed. “The girl has some decent moves. And don’t get me started on those abs. But if she was pissing people off, maybe I’m doing the same. I mean, it is a pretty contrived dance. I shake hands with everybody, put my racquet down, then freak out? It’s not exactly tops in the spontaneity department.”
Fans usually applaud wildly to Tsonga’s antics, and there have never been any obvious signs of opponent disapproval. When Istomin was asked after the match whether Tsonga’s victory celebration bothered him, the always thoughtful Uzbekistan resident replied, “Seriously?”
Still, Tsonga claims that even without the Petkovic controversy, it was time to move on.
“The dance kind of took on a life of it’s on,” said Tsonga. “A few years ago I was at a strip club with Gasquet and he was fond of using a saying: ‘Who has two thumbs and likes…’ Well, you can imagine. I’ve got two thumbs and I like to win tennis matches. It kind of became my thing.”
So what’s next for Tsonga after his final twirl across a tennis court? How will he both celebrate and entertain after closing out a hard fought match?
“I need to work on my bro hug,” he said. “I feel it could be warmer; more heartfelt. That’s what fans really respond to. That’s showmanship. Enthusiasm is so team sport.”