In the first set, thanks to some patient baseline play, Tsonga forced the hard-hitting Berdych into making mistakes and eventually broke the Czech to 3-2 on his fourth break point.
With some powerful serving and aggressive play, Tsonga went on to clinch the opening set 6-4.
He proceeded to break Berdych in the opening service game of the second set and then held his serve until 4-3. Berdych gradually found his groove and finally broke back to 4-4 before reeling off the next two games to take the set.
In a tight deciding set, both players fought off several break points, with both managing to hold serves until the tenth game, where Tsonga’s serving finally let him down.
“I feel bad,” said a disappointed Tsonga, the stronger player for a set-and-a-half. “I think we played a great match and I had many opportunities. I did some wrong things, but I gave my best tennis and I lost, so I have nothing to regret.”
AP, VALENCIA, Spain
Marin Cilic of Croatia recovered from a shaky start to beat Slovakia’s Martin Klizan 1-6, 6-0, 6-3 in the first round of the Valencia Open on Sunday.
Klizan saved five break points while breaking Cilic’s serve twice to easily take the first set on the indoor hard court at the City of Arts and Sciences.
The seventh-seeded Cilic, who has won two tournaments this year, turned things around to roll through the second set before clinching the decider.
Top-seeded David Ferrer, second-seeded Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and last year’s runner-up Juan Monaco have yet to play in the first round.
Former No. 1-ranked Juan Carlos Ferrero will retire after the tournament. The hometown favorite faces fellow Spaniard Nicolas Almagro in round one.