Jo-Wilfried Tsonga put aside bad memories of a qualifying round loss last month in Miami, opening his campaign in Marrakech with a win as he continues a comeback from 2018 knee surgery.

The 33-year-old – a one-time world No. 5 – missed more than half last season due to his injury and recovery..

But the Frenchman came out of the blocks fast at the start of the clay season, defeating Cedrik-Marcel Stebe, 6-1, 7-6(3) in the first round as the German played for the first time in 15 months.


Tsonga has a history in Morocco, reaching the 2008 semi-finals in Casablanca and has never lost a set in the country.

“It was my first match on clay in a while. So I’m happy that I won today. I did what I needed to do today and played well during the first set,” Tsonga said.

“It has been almost two years since I didn’t play on outdoor clay. It’s nice to be back on clay.”

No., 116 Tsonga’s last clay outdoor match came at Roland Garros, 2017, when he went out in the first round. His 2018 was a total loss, with only five victories, due to his injury absence.

Tsonga began this comeback season strongly, winning the Montpellier title while ranked outside the Top 200.

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. Photo: Anne Parker International Sports Fotos

“I have been working well, I hope it will pay off,” he said after reaching the second round and a date with British third seed Kyle Edmund, a winner over f Ugo Humbert of France 6-3, 6-2.

Edmund’s reached the final here a year ago, losing to Spanish specialist Pablo Andujar.

World No. 3 Alexander Zverev, whose recent hardcourt form has been far from impressive, opens as a wild card, playing Uzbek Denis Istomin.


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