Tsonga Saves 2 M.P. To Defeat Nishikori
Berdych defeats Simon on Thursday in Paris
Local favourite and No. 11 seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga trailed fifth seed Kei Nishikori for the majority of their third-round match at the BNP Paribas Masters, but showed remarkable fighting spirit to save two match points and prevail on Thursday in Paris, 0-6, 6-3, 7-6(3).
“We are here to give our best, so that first set didn't go well for me. I made double faults, things like that, but it was because I want to do well,” said Tsonga. “But little by little, I was able to get settled. My confidence came back and I was able to play better.”
With the win, Tsonga is also still in contention to qualify for the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals. A title win in Paris would send Tsonga to London.
Next up for the Frenchman is fourth seed Milos Raonic, a three-set winner earlier in the day over No. 16 seed Pablo Cuevas. Their FedEx ATP Head2Head series is tied at 2-2, but the Canadian has won their past two matches.
“I'm not thinking about [London] because I'm far from it. Tomorrow is only a quarter-final, with a long way to go still,” said Tsonga. “I'm really just thinking about trying to reach the semi-finals here. I didn't play very well the last time I played against Raonic, so I would like really to win that match tomorrow.”
Seventh seed Tomas Berdych recorded a convincing win over crowd favourite Gilles Simon in the final match on Thursday, 6-4, 6-3. Berdych broke his opponent three times and held the lead throughout the contest to prevail in 68 minutes.
Berdych is also still in contention to qualify for the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals. A runner-up showing in Paris will automatically give him the final spot up for grabs, or he could head to London if he reaches the semi-finals and Tsonga does not win the title.
The Czech player will now square off against second seed Andy Murray, a winner earlier in the day over No. 13 seed Lucas Pouille. Berdych trails their FedEx ATP Head2Head series 5-9. Murray has won their past five matches, including two victories this year in Madrid and Wimbledon.
Nishikori needed just 22 minutes to shut out Tsonga in the opening set, marking the first time the Frenchman lost a set 0-6 since last year’s Masters 1000 event in Shanghai (vs. Nadal). Wanting a more competitive match, the French crowd voiced their displeasure at Tsonga.
“My reaction is, Okay, you're booing me? No problem. I'm going to continue to try to do my best,” said Tsonga. “It was a good thing for me when they booed, because it made me react and become more aggressive afterwards.”
But Tsonga rebounded strongly by grabbing the break of serve in the second set to level the match. The Japanese star broke Tsonga at 4-3 and held two match points on his serve in the next game, but the Frenchman erased them with gutsy tennis and eventually forced a final-set tie-break. Tsonga went on a four-point run to lead 4/1 and closed out the contest with his second match point in exactly two hours.
Fittingly, Tsonga also prevailed after receiving his last 0-6 set against Nadal in Shanghai.