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Jo-Wilfried Tsonga

Put a roof over his head and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga is a happy man.

The French 10th seed pushed past Brazilian qualifier Thomaz  Bellucci 7-6(6) 6-4 6-4 on Thursday, with the extreme heat policy forcing play indoors after a 51-minute first set.

Sporting a tennis shade beneath his curly mop of hair, the 28-year-old Tsonga struggled to consolidate early on, despite breaking for 3-1.

He played a dominant tiebreak, though, cracking a running forehand down the line past Bellucci for 5-1.

But with four set points on his racket, the Frenchman’s concentration began to falter under the heat.

Three loose shots and a backhand winner from the left-handed Brazilian brought the tiebreak back on level pegging before Tsonga went on to seal it 8-6.

From here, it was his lucky day.

With the heat forcing the closure of the roof after the first set, the tennis shade came off and the big Frenchman began to unleash, breaking early in the second set and sustaining the advantage throughout, holding to love to take the set 6-4 with a sharp off-backhand volley winner, his 15th winner of the set.

The roof was a blessing under such sweltering conditions.

“It’s completely different, the light is different, the feeling in the racket is different, I think it was an advantage for me because I like these conditions,” he said. “It was great for me but I hope he recovers. He had it tough coming through qualifying.”

Bellucci, who was on the verge of the top 20 just four years ago, missed much of last season with a recurring abdominal injury and the effects of winning through three rounds of qualifying and a round in the main draw were beginning to take their toll.

Trailing 2-1, he called a medical timeout and never made inroads again.

It would take four match points, but Tsonga was comfortably through to a third-round meeting with either Marin Cilic or countryman Gilles Simon on the back of a whopping 47 winners to the Brazilian’s 19, and 14 of those as aces.

“Today I played well, better than my first round so I’m really happy. I always feel like home here. I have so much good memories it’s great to be here all the time,” Tsonga said.

If it means shutting the roof again, expect the Frenchman to be willing on those plus-40-degree days again.

Hisense Arena - Men's Singles - Round 2
Pts
1
2
3
4
5
J.Tsonga FRA (10)
 
78
6
6
 
T.Bellucci BRA 
 
66
4
4

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Post-Tournament
Thursday, 24 April 2014
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