French No. 1 should play when he wants: Tsonga

By Julien Pretot

PARIS (Reuters) - Jo-Wilfried Tsonga urged French Open organizers to extend him the same kind of courtesy granted to Britain's Andy Murray at Wimbledon after his preparations were upset by unexpectedly playing a day early.

Tsonga, seeded eighth in Paris, asked organizers if he could start his Roland Garros campaign either on Monday or Tuesday but his request was turned down and the burly right-hander made his bow on Sunday's low-key opening-day program.

"We are in France. I'm French. I'm French number one. I would have thought it was legitimate for me to be listened to, that I would be given a choice. They should listen to me when I wanted to play or start," Tsonga told reporters after his 6-0 6-1 6-4 second-round win over compatriot Josselin Ouanna on Wednesday.

"I had asked not to play on a Sunday because I had practiced in such a way that I thought I wanted to play on a Monday or Tuesday, to be totally fit.

"But they imposed it on me. If you're world No. 80 and you're not that important in the hierarchy, if I can say, loads of things are imposed on you in this case.

Tournament director Gilbert Ysern told Reuters: "We take care of the players. We listen to them but it does not mean that we obey them.

"We cannot imagine to kick off the tournament without any top name or without one of the best French players.

"Richard (Gasquet) had just played in the Nice Open final while Jo had not played all week."

Fellow Frenchman Gasquet also had his request to play on Monday or Tuesday denied by organizers and played his first-round match against Briton Murray just two days after beating Fernando Verdasco in the Nice Open final.

Gasquet won the first two sets in dazzling fashion before running out of steam, bowing out after a five-set battle.

"24 hours (of recuperation), it's important. It would have made a difference but I knew I could play either on Monday or Tuesday," said Gasquet.

"I needed some luck. I did not get any."

That kind of bad luck would not strike Roger Federer or other top names in the sport, according to Tsonga.

"For Federer in his country it's the same," he said.

"In the U.S. I suppose it's the same thing for the best American players."

"I expected a bit more from the organizers."

(Additional reporting by Chrystel Boulet-Euchin)

(Editing by Miles Evans)