Tsonga Vaults Himself Into London Contention
As far as titles go, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga clinched the best year of his career on Sunday. The Frenchman won his fourth ATP World Tour title, a career best, beating Argentine Diego Schwartzman 6-3, 7-5 at the European Open in Antwerp.
“I'm feeling good. It's always good to win tournaments. I played really good tennis this week. I had a very good opponent today. He gave me a hard time. And I played some of my best tennis today on court,” Tsonga said.
“It's really good, really positive for me and I hope I will be able to do something even better in the next week.”
Tsonga had captured titles in Lyon (d. Berdych), Marseille (d. Pouille) and Rotterdam (d. Goffin) earlier this year. With his 16th career title (16-11), the 32-year-old also vaulted himself into contention to make his fourth appearance at the Nitto ATP Finals, to be held 12-19 November at The O2 in London.
Tsonga now has 2,055 points in the Emirates ATP Race To London, 550 points behind Pablo Carreno Busta, who currently holds the final qualification spot. But there are still two weeks remaining in the season for Tsonga to make up ground. He will try to do so this week at the Erste Bank Open 500 in Vienna, where he is the eighth seed.
The Frenchman has to like his chances: No one on tour has played better than him this year indoors. Three of his four titles have come indoors – Lyon was on clay – and he boasts a 16-2 record this year under a roof.
Against Schwartzman, Tsonga saved four of six break points and won 73 per cent of his first-serve points. Tsonga will receive 250 Emirates ATP Rankings points and €105,045 in prize money for winning the title.
Schwartzman said, “I think it was really tough against Jo. He was serving unbelievable today. I am trying always to return but he played better than me. He deserved to win. He's a big player.”
The Argentine was looking to take home his second ATP World Tour title, after winning the TEB BNP Paribas Istanbul Open last year (d. Dimitrov). He fell in the 2016 European Open final to Tsonga's countryman Richard Gasquet. The Argentine will receive 150 Emirates ATP Rankings points and €55,325 in prize money.
“It was an unbelievable week for me. Second year here in Antwerp, second final,” Schwartzman said. “I am trying next year to win but it's not going to be easy. I hope I don't play against another Frenchman here.”