Second-seeded Gilles Simon beat two-time defending champion Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-4, 6-3 on Sunday to win the Open de Moselle final for his first title of the year.
Simon had not faced a single break point in the previous two matches, but lost his serve once in the first set to Tsonga and saved four other break points in the match.
“I felt that I could take my chance and I’m very happy,” Simon said. “I saw that Jo wasn’t able to serve at his best.”
Both players were bidding for the 11th title of their careers. Simon had lost his two previous finals and it was his first tournament win since his success on clay in Bucharest, Romania, in April last year.
He has now won as many career titles as fellow Frenchman Guy Forget, but still has some way to catch Yannick Noah’s tally of 23, which includes the French Open in 1983.
“Noah’s still very far ahead, but it pleases me that I’ve caught up Guy,” Simon said. “But he won Masters tournaments and the Davis Cup so he’s still ahead of me. I will try and win more [titles], bigger ones, but each tournament that you win gives you a special feeling and you have to make the most of it.”
It was 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.
“I would have liked to have played better tennis, but I wasn’t able to. Gilles played much better than me,” said Tsonga, who leads Simon 5-3 overall. “He’s been in the top 15 for years and obviously against a player like that, the little imperfections in my game get exposed.”
Tsonga had the only two aces of the match, but struggled more on his serve and was broken twice in each set as Simon reclaimed the title he won in 2010.
“The problem today was that I didn’t have that extra boost that makes the difference against a player like Gilles,” Tsonga said.
ST PETERSBURG OPEN
AFP, ST PETERSBURG, RUSSIA
Latvia’s Ernests Gulbis battled back from a set down to win the fourth title of his career by beating Spaniard Guillermo Garcia-Lopez in the St Petersburg Open on Sunday.
The 25-year-old Gulbis, seeded sixth, won 3-6, 6-4, 6-0 to record his second win over Garcia-Lopez in their third meeting.
Spanish veteran Garcia-Lopez, 30, got the better of a raft of breaks in the first set and broke early in the second before racing to a 4-1 lead.
However, he failed to win another game as world No. 36 Gulbis found another gear and reeled off 11 straight games to storm to victory.
Gulbis pocketed a US$78,000 winner’s purse, while Garcia-Lopez earned US$41,000.
Gulbis promised to return next year to defend his title.
“I wanted to win this event very much and it was the reason I battled for every single point in today’s final,” he said.