MELBOURNE, Jan 21 (Reuters) - Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga is hoping some good old Aussie spirit will help him go a step further at the Australian Open.
The 2008 runner-up and seventh seed this year beat another Frenchman, Richard Gasquet, 6-4 3-6 6-3 6-2 to reach the quarter-finals and now plays either second seed Roger Federer or Milos Raonic, the 13th seed from Canada.
Tsonga appointed Australian Roger Rasheed as his coach late last year and said the man who helped both Lleyton Hewitt and Gael Monfils could be his secret weapon.
”It’s great because he’s always positive,“ Tsonga told reporters. ”He wants to win maybe (even) more than me. He’s incredible.
“I try to be at his level and have exactly the same motivation because I think he can move some mountains because he’s very motivated.”
Rasheed may not be able to speak French - Tsonga said the best he can manage is “bonjour” - but his words appear to be having a good effect on the Frenchman’s state of mind.
“I was surprised because every day when I come to practice, he’s giving me a lot of energy just by his talk, and it’s great,” he said.
”Then on the court I just try to put what I do in practice on the court because on the court I am alone.
“But I‘m practising well. When you work hard and you’re focused on what you’re doing, you are obliged to improve again. Even if it takes time, for sure I will improve my game.”
Tsonga clubbed 37 winners to bring an end to Gasquet’s challenge after the ninth seed had battled back to win the second set.
His record against Federer is poor - 8-3 in the Swiss’s favour - but Tsonga knows how to beat Federer in a grand slam, having done so at Wimbledon in 2010.
If he gets another chance against the 17-times grand slam champion he knows he cannot afford to let any opportunities slip by.
“If it’s Rog, it’s going to very difficult, of course,” the burly Tsonga said. “I lost many times against this guy, so it would be a big challenge for me.” (Editing by Ossian Shine)