By Jason Brown, USTA.com
Winston-Salem, N.C. – A delicious sub-plot to the many storylines packed into the upcoming Davis Cup quarterfinal between the United States and France, a spirited war of words has developed over the build-up to play between American Andy Roddick and Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
|Andy Roddick 225|
Three weeks ago at the Pacific Life Open, the 22-year-old rising French star ignited the back-and-forth exchange, claiming that the U.S. should fear his team.
“Maybe it's going to be more difficult than they think,” said Tsonga, who has enjoyed a breakout year, reaching the final of the Australian Open.
In his first media availability since arriving in Winston-Salem, Roddick responded to the latest missive from the French.
“First and foremost, let me say that I think Tsonga is great for tennis,” said Roddick. “I don't want that to be lost in this whole little kind of word thing that we got going on. I think it's more fun than anything.
"I think the reason why everyone was so maybe captivated by his run in Australia is because he has charisma, and he's a little bit of a showman. That being said, I was a little bit surprised when he said, ‘They should fear us.’ I think that should work both ways.”
Tsonga made his debut on the French Davis Cup team earlier this year in the first round, winning his only match over Romania’s Andrei Pavel.
Just three years Tsonga’s senior, Roddick is an eight-year Davis Cup veteran and has compiled a stout singles record of 27-9.
Roddick carries a seven-match winning streak into the weekend series, a streak that the Frenchman would love to break.
“They're coming here, and I think we're the champs,” said Roddick. “I think he's played one Davis Cup match before, or two maybe. He's definitely talking big.”
“It's going to be interesting to see how he comes out and how he plays. He's definitely capable of playing great tennis. If we're having a little friendly banter back and forth, I think is good for the tie and good for tennis. If we're being honest, come Friday it's not going to make a difference either way for either one of us. Might as well have fun with it, which I think is more what he's been doing and what I've been doing.”
Roddick and Tsonga have met twice during tour play, with the sixth-ranked player carrying a 2-0 edge.
At the 2005 French Open, Roddick dismissed Tsonga in straight sets, and at the 2007 Australian Open, Roddick again prevailed in four sets.
Depending on the results of Thursday’s draw ceremony, Roddick and Tsonga could play each other either on Friday or Sunday.