Tsonga Stays Perfect With Lyon Crown
The title is Tsonga's first clay-court crown and his 15th overall title. The Frenchman improved to 3-0 in title matches this season, having also won back-to-back indoor crowns at Rotterdam and Marseille in February.
“I am very happy. First title on clay court. It is now added to my CV and I can move on. I am going to enjoy this title today and tomorrow. It has been a great week overall,” Tsonga said.
Never before has Tsonga won more than three titles in a season, although he looks poised to break that mark this year. Tsonga also won a trio of titles in 2009.
The 32-year-old Le Mans native also enjoyed more home-country success. Tsonga improved to 8-2 in title matches on French soil.
The right-hander's clay-court season had started slowly. He had to withdraw from his second-round match at the Mutua Madrid Open and from the Internazionali BNL d'Italia because of a right shoulder injury. But in Lyon, Tsonga played the big points well all week, and he continued that trend on Saturday against Berdych, who came into the final leading their FedEx ATP Head2Head series 8-4.
Serving at 4-5, Tsonga fell behind 15/40 but reeled off four consecutive points to erase the two set points and even the set. The two headed to a tie-break, which Tsonga controlled, sprinting to a 4/0 lead and clinching the first set when Berdych missed a forehand overhead wide.
“It was a very close match. I had a very big chance at the end of the first set when I had two set points, and I think that was the key of the match. To [win] the set, it would put me in a completely different position, but Jo was able to save that, hold that, and I didn't really create many chances after that,” Berdych said.
They remained on serve in the second set until the 12th game, when Berdych served to stay in the match. The 31-year-old veteran had saved his first four break points but double faulted on match point to give Tsonga the title.
“Today was my best match of the week. I served very well, which allowed me to relax a little bit during the returning game,” Tsonga said.
For the tournament, Tsonga held serve 42 of 46 games (91 per cent) and saved 10 of 14 break points. He will receive 250 Emirates ATP Rankings points and €85,945 in prize money.
Berdych enjoyed the best week of his season, reaching his first final of the year and his first since winning the Shenzhen Open last October. The right-hander falls to 13-18 in tour-level finals and 2-6 in clay-court title matches. He will receive 150 Emirates ATP Rankings points and €45,265 in prize money.
“It was a great experience. It was a very nice week. Very calm, a lot of people, which is nice. I played four matches, which is good, that's why I came,” said Berdych, who accepted a late wild card into the event. “One more win and it would be absolutely perfect, but that's all right. Head's up and let's go to Paris.”