Pouille Powers To Biggest Title In Vienna
Lucas Pouille soared to his biggest career crown at the Erste Bank Open 500, dominating countryman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-1, 6-4 on Sunday.
The Frenchman notched his first ATP World Tour 500-level trophy, earning a fourth title in his young career. With the victory, he became the first player in 2017 to win on all surfaces, adding a hard-court crown in Vienna to triumphs on the clay of Budapest and grass of Stuttgart.
Despite the loss, Tsonga stays in the hunt for one of the two remaining berths in the Emirates ATP Race To London. Bidding to make his fourth appearance at the season finale, he is just 295 points behind Pablo Carreno Busta for the eighth and final spot. All will be on the line at the final ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event of the year next week in Paris.
"I'm very happy with how the week ended," said Pouille. "All the work I've done has paid off... It's my first ATP World Tour 500 title. I played some great tennis and I was a bit emotional at the end. It's always great to finish the week with a victory.
"Jo has been playing for two weeks now and I knew he'd be a little tired. I had to be focused on every point. He made a few mistakes with the forehand and I found a way to win the match."
Pouille beats Tsonga 6-1 6-4 to become the first player to win 3 ATP titles on 3 different surfaces in 2017. pic.twitter.com/SDEfduil4Q— Tennis TV (@TennisTV) October 29, 2017
Pouille was off to the races from the first ball at the Wiener Stadthalle. After denying a break point in his second service game, the younger Frenchman was indefatigable from the baseline and consistently forced his compatriot into uncomfortable positions.
Tsonga looked to have escaped danger with two break points saved at 1-2 15/40, but a double fault would eventually hand Pouille the early advantage. After inducing the quick break of serve, the 23-year-old did not put a wrong foot and refused to allow a rattled Tsonga to find his rhythm.
Tsonga struggled behind his serve throughout the encounter, claiming just 32 per cent of points on his second delivery. A netted backhand would give Pouille the decisive break for 3-2 in the second set and a backhand return error would seal the victory on his first match point. The win gives the Le Mans native a taste of revenge after falling to Tsonga in the Marseille final in February.
Pouille emphatically fired 17 winners, including three aces, while seizing 72 per cent of total service points. The win bumps his total to 34 this year, equaling last year's career-high. It was a strong week for the World No. 25, who adds 500 Emirates ATP Rankings points and is projected to rise seven spots. He also takes home €438,505 in prize money.
For Tsonga, it marked just his first defeat in five ATP World Tour finals this year. A titlist in Rotterdam, Marseille, Lyon and Antwerp, the 32-year-old drops to a tour-leading 20-3 indoors in 2017. He was bidding to become the first Frenchman to win at least five singles titles in a single season since Guy Forget won six in 1991.
"Congrats to my good friend Lucas for his victory," said Tsonga. "I love this tournament for the support they give me, every time I come here in Vienna. All the moments I spend here are special."