30 is a bit of an unlucky number in the tennis world. Usually, it's the age at which players start to break down, as the grueling tennis schedule inevitably catches up with players who have been grinding since they were 16.
For the French, it holds more significance in 2013, as it marks the 30-year drought of French players winning on home soil when Yannick Noah — Joakim's dad — claimed the trophy in 1983.
Fortunately for them, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga is on the verge of turning all that around.
On Tuesday evening in France, Tsonga demolished Roger Federer in straight sets, 7-5, 6-3, 6-3. "He was in all areas better than me," Federer said. "That's why the result was pretty clean. You know, no doubt about it."
Federer, just past the cursed age at 31, is reaching old-timer status on the tour and is noticeably a step behind at times. This plays a much bigger role on the clay at Roland Garros, where physical strength is more of an asset. Just ask Rafa Nadal.
Still, there are very few people who can do what Tsonga did against Roger Federer or any surface on any given day. It's a product of constant work on his game, changing coaches and refusing to surrender to the exclusive champions club that Nadal, Federer and Novak Djokovic have formed over the last few years.
Tsonga still has to take down one of those members (though Djokovic and Nadal are expected to meet in the other semifinal) but he will be bolstered by newfound confidence after his win against Federer while getting even more support from his home crowd, sensing that Tsonga could be on the verge of breaking a long streak without a French victor at the French Open.