at the Union Buildings in Pretoria
New York - Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Tomas Berdych may be seeded five and six at the US Open, but they admit it's impossible to depose Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal as the grand masters of tennis.
The world's top three men have won 29 of the last 30 majors stretching back to Nadal's first French Open win in 2005.
Only Juan Martin del Potro, who defeated Federer in the 2009 US Open final, has managed to break that stranglehold.
In all, Federer, the top seed in New York, has 17 Grand Slam titles. Nadal, missing through injury this year, has 11, while Djokovic has five.
“It's already something good if you win one match against one of these guys; two, it's amazing; three, for the moment it's impossible,” said Frenchman Tsonga.
Tsonga's closest call with Grand Slam glory was in 2008 when he reached the Australian Open final, where he lost to Djokovic.
“I think I still have to improve a lot of things in my game,” added Tsonga, who made the US Open second round on Tuesday by beating Slovakian qualifier Karol Beck 6-3, 6-1, 7-6 (7/2).
Tsonga reached the Wimbledon semi-finals this year but has yet to get beyond the quarter-finals in New York.
“Not also in my game, but also physically I have to be a bit quicker. I have to move a bit better to win against these guys, so I work on it.”
Berdych, who reached his only Grand Slam final at Wimbledon in 2010 where he lost to Nadal, also ruled himself out on Tuesday, saying Federer, Djokovic and Nadal are the only ones who can win Grand Slams these days.
“The majors are not for everyone,” said 26-year-old Berdych, who beat Federer on his way to the 2010 Wimbledon final.
“This time it's just probably for three guys. Yeah, it's how it is. We are probably in the best era of our sport.”
That's not to say that Berdych, who has never reached the US Open quarter-finals, does not feel he is close to being at that level.
“On one hand it's very far. On the other one it's quite close,” he said. “I am doing what I think is best. I'm trying to work hard and one day I can say that was the best I could make. Maybe it happens. Maybe not.”
As close as he is, he realizes that Britain's Andy Murray, seeded third at the US Open, is closer although he has never won a Grand Slam title either.
“I probably would be close enough if I would be playing with them more finals or something,” said Berdych after seeing off Belgium's David Goffin 7-5, 6-3, 6-3.
“But I don't know what Andy maybe saying. He played so many finals and didn't win one yet, so probably that's even worse that he's really close and he still couldn't make one.”