© J.B. Autissier/Panoramic

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga loses just four first-serve points (21/25) en route to a semi-final win against Radu Albot in Montpellier.

Tsonga Guarantees French Champion In Montpellier

Herbert defeats Berdych in straight sets

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga ensured there will be a French champion in Montpellier for the seventh time in nine editions, beating Radu Albot 6-1, 6-3 on Saturday.

The 33-year-old, who will meet countryman Pierre-Hugues Herbert in the final, reached his first championship match in Montpellier after 69 minutes, dropping just four points behind his first serve (21/25). Tsonga owned a 0-3 record in Montpellier semi-finals heading into the match, falling at that stage in 2010 (l. to Monfils), 2017 (l. to A. Zverev) and 2018 (l. to Pouille).

"It was a good match from my side, I played good tennis [and was] very aggressive," said Tsonga. "I hope I will be able to play the same tennis tomorrow in the final. I am already happy with what I did this week and I will give my best tomorrow."

Watch Live

Tsonga raced into a one-set lead after just 26 minutes, holding serve to love at 5-1 after securing two service breaks. Albot responded well early in the second set, taking a 2-0 lead after pushing Tsonga behind the baseline and moving forward to finish at the net. But Tsonga soon regained control of the match, ripping a forehand up the line to claim his fourth straight game and establish a 4-2 lead. Tsonga soon converted his first match point, lobbing Albot off his return to reach his 29th tour-level final (16-12).

More than 15 months after lifting his 16th ATP Tour trophy at the 2017 European Open (d. Schwartzman), Tsonga will meet Herbert for the third time in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series (Tsonga leads 2-0). Herbert defeated Tomas Berdych 6-2, 7-5 to advance to his third ATP Tour singles final. The World No. 44 won 84 per cent of first-serve points (27/32) to record his eighth win in 10 tour-level matches this season after one hour and 33 minutes.

"I am just really happy about my match today," said Herbert. "It was a tough battle against Tomas and I am really happy to come off the court as the winner in front of my home crowd. Being in a final in France means a lot to me."

Herbert has held 41 of 44 service games and saved 15 of 18 break points so far in Montpellier. The 27-year-old is aiming to lift his first tour-level singles trophy after runner-up finishes at Winston-Salem in 2015 (l. to Anderson) and Shenzhen in 2018 (l. to Nishioka).

Are You In? Subscribe Now!

Herbert made a fast start in front of his home crowd, racing into a 4-0 lead before clinching the opening set on his first set point. Reducing his unforced error count, Berdych challenged Herbert in the second set, earning three break points at 4-3. But Herbert held his nerve, firing a backhand down the line to reach 4-4 before breaking, three games later, for a 6-5 lead. Serving for the match, Herbert converted his first match point with his fifth ace of the contest.

Having saved two match points against Filip Krajinovic to reach the semi-finals, Berdych was aiming to extend his unbeaten record in Montpellier to eight matches. The 33-year-old Czech triumphed on his only previous visit to the event in 2012, beating Gael Monfils in the final.

Did You Know?

Herbert has already lifted two tour-level trophies in doubles this year. The Frenchman captured the Qatar ExxonMobil Open title alongside David Goffin, before completing the Career Grand Slam with Nicolas Mahut at the Australian Open.
More stories like this in: