French ace Jo-Wilfried Tsonga showed both his caring side and his brute strength in dispatching emerging Melburnian Omar Jasika from the Australian Open.
Tsonga bounced out the next-generation hopeful 7-5 6-1 6-4 in 103 minutes on Wednesday night, ending Jasika’s maiden grand slam in the second round.
The world No.10 paused only to help a young ballgirl attend to a bleeding nose, walking her off Margaret Court Arena to great applause.
Back on the court, Tsonga used all of his advantages – 12 more years’ experience and a 30kg-heavier frame – to end Jasika’s Open in straight sets.
Jasika was competitive but never in the contest in his first meeting with a player ranked in the world’s top 75.
He said the tournament, which began with a win over Ukrainian Illya Marchenko, was probably the best week of his life.
“I’ve learnt a lot. Playing against these guys, I’ve learnt how much it actually takes to become a top-10 player,” he said.
“The physicality, trying to sustain the same level throughout the whole match … got the better of me today.
“It was a great match – fun out there. I’ll never forget this.”
The 18-year-old showed glimpses of his potential, breaking Tsonga to lead the first set.
Jasika engaged his fine running game to win a stunning rally and break the Frenchman in the fifth game.
He was immediately broken back, then showed heart to recover from 0-40 to hold serve.
Tsonga broke in the 12th game to claim a tight first set and blew his young competitor away in the second.
The third was more of a fight, with Jasika claiming a 20-shot rally that showed his determination.
But without the Frenchman’s weapons, he was unable to crack the 2008 Australian Open finalist.
Tsonga, who will play countryman Pierre-Hugues Herbert in the third round, praised his young opponent.
“At the start, he played really well and got on top of me … he’s got a different game than older players,” he said.
“He’s very talented.
“I started to understand a bit more and I played well – I’m really happy to get through.”