Mon, Sep 23, 2013 - Page 19 News List

Tsonga and Simon reach final at the Open de Moselle

AP, METZ, France

Top-seeded Jo-Wilfried Tsonga will go for his third straight Open de Moselle title when he plays Gilles Simon in an all-French final, with both players chasing their 11th career title.

Tsonga rallied to beat eighth-seeded Florian Mayer of Germany 4-6, 6-2, 6-3 in the semi-finals on Saturday, after the second-seeded Simon had defeated French countryman Nicolas Mahut 6-3, 7-6 (7/2) to stay on course for his first title of the year.

This is Tsonga’s first tournament since a knee injury forced him to drop out of his second-round match at Wimbledon and his first final since winning the Open 13 in Marseille in February for his 10th career title.

Just like in Friday’s quarter-finals, Tsonga took time to find his range and dropped the first set. He looked leg-weary and was broken in his first service game, then struggled to hold his next as Mayer pinned him to the back of the court with his looped returns.

“It’s thanks to the fans that I managed to hang in there and also because Florian Mayer has a little bit of a weakness in terms of endurance,” Tsonga said. “It will be a different matter against Gilles. I noticed that he is playing very well.”

Tsonga leads Simon 5-2 overall. All of Tsonga’s titles have been on hard courts, half of Simon’s on clay.

Tsonga started the second set aggressively and Mayer had to save two break points early on. In the fifth game, Tsonga paused before serving and then squatted down as if to test the flexibility of his knees.

He drew Mayer to the net on the next point and then lobbed him to force another break point, which Mayer saved with a forehand pass.

Mayer saved another chance on his serve, but Tsonga finally broke him when he returned a weak second serve with a thumping forehand. He held to love, including an ace and a crosscourt winner from the back of the court, to move 5-2 ahead.

Tsonga did not face a break point in the third set and in the other semi-final Simon did not face a single break point for the second consecutive match.

“I broke him early and was solid from the baseline,” Simon said. “I’ve been practicing for a month before coming here. I needed to do that and I think that today was a pretty solid match.”

Simon, who lost the Eastbourne final in June, broke Mahut in the fifth game and took the first set against serve when Mahut planted a weak shot into the net.

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