This time, it’s over for good: Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, former French number one and world number five, was eliminated Tuesday, May 24 in the 1st round of Roland-Garros by the Norwegian Casper Ruud (8th in the world) 6- 7 (6/8), 7-6 (7/4), 6-2, 7-6 (7/0). At 37, he puts his racquets away permanently, as announced a few weeks ago.

Despite the unconditional and noisy support of the public as well as a resistance sometimes worthy of his heyday, Tsonga – injured in the right shoulder at the very end of the game and in tears on the match point – bows out after seventeen years and a half on the circuit. During his career, he will have built one of the finest records in French tennis. For his part, Ruud will face the Finn Emil Ruusuvuori (61st), winner of another Frenchman, Ugo Humbert (46th).

Before leaving this world stage where he conquered the public with his spectacular game, Tsonga offered himself a beautiful last dance: 3:49 hours of pleasure, offering spectators a show that at times reminded us of the great player he has summer. Flashes of the Tsonga of yesteryear thus crossed the court and made the audience shiver with pleasure until the end: a few big serves, powerful forehands followed at the net to conclude with a huge smash, series of huge slaps right who end up overtaking his opponent… In the tie-break of the first set, it is even the Big Jo – very different from the one who has been losing in the first round in recent months – who found himself on the court: powerful , physical, reassembled.

After missing his first two set points, he converted the third, causing an explosion of joy from the stands and a howl of rage from him. A few games later, Ruud scored the first break of the game to lead 4-3. Vigilant, Tsonga immediately unbroken by countering an attack from Ruud with his devastating forehand. Both men came to the tiebreaker, but this time Ruud was the stronger.

The third set quickly turned to the advantage of the Norwegian, who managed a first break to lead 3-1 then a second to complete the set. Contrary to what one might fear, Tsonga did not collapse. The Frenchman even managed the white break to lead 6-5 in the 4th set. After a moving Marseillaise sung by nearly 15,000 people during the change of sides, Tsonga then served to push the match into a decisive set.

Unfortunately, it was an injured Tsonga who then came to serve: he was suddenly unable to hit the ball normally to the point of serving with a spoon. With a visibly very sore right shoulder, which could be a problem for his participation in the doubles with Richard Gasquet, he let Ruud come back at 6-6 and called the physiotherapist before playing the tie-break. If Rudd didn’t work a miracle, neither did Tsonga. For his ultimate match point, the player had to play in tears in front of a standing stadium.

Since his first match on the ATP Tour in September 2004, Tsonga can claim to be one of only three players to have beaten Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic when they were world No. 1. He is also one of only three players to have beaten all three of these, as well as Andy Murray in a grand slam.

With 18 titles, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga has one of the finest records in French tennis. On this point, only Yannick Noah has done better. He also has 45 victories against the top 10, at least two victories against all members of the Big Four (Federer, Nadal, Djokovic and Murray), quarter-finals played in all four Majors and an Open final. Australia (2008). Added to this are a silver medal in doubles with Michaël Llodra at the London Olympics in 2012 and exploits in the Davis Cup, up to the title in 2017. A trophy won with his friends Gilles Simon, Richard Gasquet and Gaël Monfils , the new Musketeers find themselves at three, and soon at two since Simon will stop at the end of the year.

All that Tsonga will miss is this grand slam title which crowns the greatest. A title all the more complicated to win as he made his career during the reign of the Big Faur. He got his chance in 2008, when he reached the Australian Open final, where he lost to Novak Djokovic who won his first of 20 Majors to date.