Stronger Tsonga Takes Down Nadal In Shanghai Semis
Tsonga surged to No. 9 in the Emirates ATP Race To London following his 6-4, 0-6, 7-5 victory over the Spaniard, reaching his 22nd tour-level final and fourth at the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 level. The Frenchman, who soars three spots from the 12th position, has amassed 2,500 points this year and will look to further gain ground on No. 8 David Ferrer and the rest of the pack.
"All along the season I worked hard to be able to play these matches," said Tsonga. "When it happens, I'm really happy to have worked hard because I know I can count on my body. It's something great for me because it was not always like this. Today I'm a lot stronger than I was maybe few years ago. I think it's good for me.
"I feel good. To be honest, the season was difficult with a lot of ups and downs. This surface is one of my favourites. I know I'm able to play good tennis. Before I came here, I didn't know if I will be able to play that good. I hope it's going to continue."
Tsonga, who improved to 8-1 since the US Open, having recently hoisted the trophy on home soil at the Moselle Open in Metz, fired 40 winners, including 20 off his forehand side. He won 17 of 25 net points, converting on two of 10 break opportunities.
The 30-year-old Frenchman would secure his first break of the match in the fifth game, striking a down-the-line backhand pass for a 3-2 advantage. Nadal got a new pair of shoes four games later, but the gear upgrade could not curb his opponent’s momentum, as Tsonga would serve out the set at the 45-minute mark.
Nadal came out firing in the second set with three breaks of serve, and the 29-year-old would soon level the match at one set apiece. But Tsonga would not be denied in the decider, registering a crucial break for 6-5 with a dipping topspin forehand that caught Nadal out of position at the net. A sensational dive volley would give him his first match point a game later, which he converted to close out the victory after two hours and 15 minutes.
Tsonga notched his fourth victory in his FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalry against Nadal, improving to 4-8. It was their first meeting since 2013, when the Spaniard prevailed on the clay of the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters. Seeking his first Masters 1000 crown since toppling Roger Federer for the Rogers Cup trophy last year, Tsonga will face either Novak Djokovic or Andy Murray in the final on Sunday.
Nadal, meanwhile, further solidified his place among the elite eight in his quest to qualify for the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals for an eighth time, following a run to the final last week in Beijing with a semi-final finish in Shanghai. He passed Tomas Berdych for fifth in the Emirates ATP Race To London.
"I lost against a player who played very well," said Nadal. "I congratulate him. He was a little bit better than me and that's why he is in the final.
"In general, it has been a very positive two tournaments, [reaching the] final and semi-finals in tournaments that are not easy for me. I was able to win a lot of matches, but not only win matches, but play at a very good level again. I think it has been one of the most positive two tournaments in a row on hard court of the year without a doubt. The feelings are that I am getting better and better."