Mystery surrounds Wawrinka, Tsonga flare-up
TENNIS: Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga has refused to expand on what sparked a fierce mid-match exchange with Stan Wawrinka on Rod Laver Arena.
The Australian Open men's quarterfinal threatened to bubble over when court-side microphones caught Tsonga giving Wawrinka a spray - in French - at the change of ends.
The pair had just taken their seats after Wawrinka clinched the first-set tiebreak - his fifth consecutive tiebreak victory - when the Swiss No. 1 took umbrage at Tsonga.
"Did I look at you at all, it's a tennis match. You've got to calm down, relax a bit it's a tennis match," Wawrinka replied in French during the change of ends.
When asked about the incident after the 7-6 (7-2) 6-4 6-3 straight sets loss, Tsonga would not elaborate any further.
"Sometimes it happens. We can talk during the game. Nothing special, yeah," Tsonga said.
"We just spoke about things that I think is only between him and me, and that's it."
One of the most affable guys on the circuit, Tsonga engaged in the stare-off and exchange of words with Wawrinka during a second set break in play.
But Big Stan also brushed it off after the game.
"I think the beginning of the match was quite tense from both sides," Wawrinka said after the match.
"We were maybe a little bit looking too much about what the other will do, waiting a little bit the other to do something on the court.
"I think it's not only a grand slam quarter-final, it's a tennis match.
"You can always have some tension ... Things can happen but, at the end there is no problem after the match."
There's no love lost between the pair.
It all started in 2014, days before Wawrinka's singles encounter with Tsonga at the Davis Cup, when the Swiss said the French team had been chatting too much and should just "let their racquets do the talking".
"Everyone does the way they want to do," he is quoted as saying at the time.
"In the end we spoke with our racquet on the court. That is the explanation of the result.
"We were better during this weekend. In the beginning of the week many things were written about me and Roger, Roger's back.
"The French team said they were ready to go to war, if I can quote them. What happened was totally the opposite."
Later that same week, Wawrinka showed little grace (in some people's eyes) during his victory speech when he said: "(It) was important to show them that they were a little bit maybe too focused on Roger. Me, I did my job, I showed them that I'm not No. 4 for nothing."
Needless to say, his comments did not sit well with the French.
At the Davis Cup celebratory dinner, while engaged in conversation with Julien Benneteau, Wawrinka was left under no doubt about what the team thought of his comments when Richard Gasquet and Gael Monfils joined the discussion.
It has always been maintained that the discussion remained cordial.
Back to Wawrinka getting through to the Australian Open semi-finals, and the Swiss kicked into gear after the heated first set to roll into the semi-finals at Melbourne Park.
The 2014 Australian Open champion sported heavy strapping on his right leg - thigh to ankle - but dismissed any injury concerns after the two-hour and 15-minute clash.
"You barely see me with some tape or something (it's) just a few little things. Doesn't affect me anything to play. I'm playing really well," Wawrinka said.