However, Tsonga has to watch his fitness after sitting out from Wimbledon through to Metz last month with his knee worries. This week in the Austrian capital marks his fourth event in the last five weeks, a heavy stress on even a fully-fit player,
Tsonga remains optimistic.
“I’m going better and better, and I know I can play a lot better. I’ll continue to work, I think I’m on a good way,” he said.
Monday’s opening day featured an ulta-light schedule with just two main-draw matches set.
Both involved Czech seeds, who are using the last three weeks of the regular season to prepare for next month’s Davis Cup final in Belgrade against Djokovic and Serbia.
Veteran Radek Stepanek defeated Austrian Martin Fischer 7-5, 6-3, while eighth seed Lukas Rosol produced a mirror-image victory 6-3, 7-5 over Jesse Huta Galung of the Netherlands.
Both matches also took an identical 65 minutes, with Rosol firing 13 aces in his victory.
The tournament is missing two-time champion Juergen Melzer, who was forced to pull out and end his season due to a shoulder tendon injury. The 32-year-old won his fifth career title at Winston-Salem in August.
His absence will be a body blow to the tournament which thrives on imported big names plus local Austrian players, like 2009 and 2010 winner Melzer.
Stepanek, 34, and playing the tournament for the sixth time, had never faced wild-card Fischer. The Austrian has lost four first-round matches in Vienna dating to 2006.
Sixth-seeded Benoit Paire of France advanced to the second round of the Stockholm Open on Monday by beating Santiago Giraldo of Colombia 6-4, 6-4.
Paire broke Giraldo twice and lost his serve once in both sets to wrap up the win in 1 hour, 10 minutes. He will next face Pablo Carreno Busta of Spain, who advanced when Jurgen Zopp of Estonia retired with an injury at 5-5 in the first set.
In Monday’s other first-round match, Igor Sijsling of the Netherlands beat Tobias Kamke of Germany 6-4, 6-2.
Top-seeded David Ferrer of Spain has a bye into the second round, as does No. 2 Milos Raonic of Canada.
Fifth-seeded Lucie Safarova of the Czech Republic defeated China’s Peng Shuai 7-5, 6-4 on Monday to move into the second round of the Luxembourg Open.
Safarova converted her only break point in the first set and added two more breaks in the second to wrap up the win in 1 hour, 32 minutes.
In another first-round match, Yanina Wickmayer of Belgium beat Heather Watson of Britain 6-0, 5-7, 6-2, breaking her opponent seven times even though the Briton landed 81 percent of her first serves compared with just 49 percent for Wickmayer.
Top-seeded Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark, No. 2 Sloane Stephens of the US and third-seeded Sabine Lisicki of Germany were all due to open their campaigns yesterday.