Tsonga Sails Past Berdych, To Meet Goffin In Final
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga will play for his first ATP World Tour title in 17 months on Sunday at the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam. The Frenchman knocked out 2014 champion Tomas Berdych on Saturday, ousting the fourth seed 6-3, 6-4 in 72 minutes. The victory marks a milestone 400th win for the 31 year old.
“It was a good match, played pretty solid on my serve, which is good for my game. When I'm serving like this I'm able to create a bit more on the return and be a bit more offensive,” Tsonga said. “Just really happy to be in the final. Now it's the last step, and it's not an easy one so I'm already focused on the next match.”
Tsonga will meet a red-hot David Goffin, who raced past the charging French qualifier Pierre-Hugues Herbert 6-1, 6-3 on Saturday evening. Goffin saved his only break point faced and converted six of 10 break chances against Herbert, who had upset second seed Dominic Thiem to reach the last four.
“His best weapon is his serve... I think I did really well tonight. I was on every return. As soon as I had the ball on my racquet it was a great return,” Goffin said. “I didn't think about the Top 10 at all because I didn't know, honestly. After the match, when the speaker told me, I was obviously happy.”
Tsonga leads their FedEx ATP Head2Head series 3-2, but they haven't played on hard courts since 2014 and Goffin is playing some of the best tennis of his career. The 26 year old is projected to crack the Top 10 of the Emirates ATP Rankings for the first time in his nine-year career. He'll become the first Belgian male to reach the elite level. In the quarter-finals, he handed Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov only his second loss of the season.
Goffin was nearly perfect against Herbert, clinching the first set with a lunging backhand return winner off a well-placed first serve. Goffin broke during the fourth game of the second set to roll to victory.
Earlier in the day, Tsonga, a finalist in 2011 here, took the first set with a single break of serve and broke again to start the second set when Berdych sailed a forehand wide. The Frenchman cruised the rest of the way, never facing a break point.
The 6'2” Frenchman last captured an ATP World Tour title in September 2015 when he beat countryman Gilles Simon for his third Metz title. Tsonga fell in the Erste Bank Open 500 final in Vienna last October to Andy Murray, who was on his way to becoming year-end No. 1 in the Emirates ATP Rankings. It will be Tsonga's 24th tour-level final and fifth at the ATP World Tour 500 level.
Goffin is playing in back-to-back finals, after falling to Dimitrov last week in Sofia. He also last won a title at Metz in 2014. The Rotterdam final will mark his eighth career tour-level title match.
Dutch wild cards Wesley Koolhof/Matwe Middelkoop dismissed the veteran pairing of Jean-Julien Rojer/Horia Tecau 6-4, 6-3 in 60 minutes. Koolhof/Middelkoop dominated with their serves, including an impressive 14/18 on second-serve points (78 per cent). In the final, the wild cards will face third seeds Ivan Dodig/Marcel Granollers, who beat top seeds Herbert/Nicolas Mahut 6-3, 6-4.