With the start of the U.S. Open just a few days away, our Forbes Travel Guide editors have been spending time in New York City. Last night, newly crowned Rogers Cup champion Jo-Wilfried Tsonga celebrated his finals victory over Roger Federer with fans and friends at an intimate cocktail reception held on The Terrace at WestHouse New York. The boutique hotel’s 23rd-floor indoor/outdoor venue served as a nice spot for a champagne toast and crab cakes, beef Wellington and other passed hors d’oeuvres.
As guests approached Tsonga to take pictures with them or just to tell him how much they respect his game, the tennis pro didn’t mind at all. The world’s No. 10 player says it’s important for him to meet everyone: “People see me during the tournament, but I usually have to go quickly because I have to recover in my room. It’s good for me to see everybody tonight.”
In between mixing and mingling, Tsonga chatted with us about everything from why the Big Apple is so special to his go-to drink of choice.
Wimbledon and the French Open both have their mystique, but what makes New York’s U.S. Open such a magical event every year?
It’s important to have tournaments like Wimbledon and the U.S. Open because they are all different. They are all beautiful and have something special. With the U.S. Open, for example, everything is bigger. The crowd is always making more noise and is a little bit more aggressive. You can feel the energy of the city. The town is never empty — there are always people. Even when it’s 2, 3, 4, 5 in the morning, they are in the street, and that’s why it is special.
We can imagine how tough it is facing a Federer backhand or John Isner serve, but how difficult is it to live out of a suitcase while touring on the ATP circuit?
It’s difficult because you do a lot of sacrifice for that. You leave family and friends to live your own life. You don’t have time to get the love from the people you like, but it’s difficult in a positive way. And when it comes to luggage, often I take two or three. You need many things for tennis and you need stuff to go out to events, so it’s a lot.
You play on the top courts in the world, but I’m sure you’ve seen some wonderful facilities while vacationing, too. Which hotels have the nicest amenities for tennis players?
The best I’ve stayed in for the moment is [WestHouse New York] because the welcome is great and my suite has a terrace that looks out onto Broadway — it’s just magic.
With playing in tournaments and having to stay in top condition, do you drink alcohol off the court?
It can happen but not often. I will drink to celebrate a trophy or something. I’m French, so, of course, I like the red wine.