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Tsonga, Chardy Set All-French Final

Johannesburg, South Africa

Jeremy ChardyReg CaldecottJeremy Chardy

Top seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga eased past Frederico Gil 6-3, 6-4 at the SA Tennis Open on Saturday to set up an all-French final at the ATP World Tour 250 tennis tournament at the Montecasino in northern Johannesburg. Earlier, fifth seed Jeremy Chardy (pictured) had saved three match points as he defeated World No. 13 David Ferrer 1-6, 7-6(9), 7-6(4).

It is the first all-French final on the ATP World Tour since Gilles Simon defeated Julien Benneteau in the Casablanca final in May 2008. It will be the first meeting between Tsonga and Chardy.

World No. 14 Tsonga advanced to his fourth ATP World Tour final after breaking serve three times from four opportunities in his 64-minute victory over first-time semi-finalist Gil. The right-hander, who has yet to drop a set this week, reached his first ATP World Tour final at the 2008 Australian Open (l. to Djokovic) and later that year captured his first two ATP World Tour titles at Bangkok (d. Djokovic) and the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tennis event in Paris (d. Nalbandian).

Despite missing three months of the 2008 ATP World Tour season with a knee injury, the Le Mans native finished inside the Top 10 at No. 6 in the South African Airways ATP Rankings and qualified for Tennis Masters Cup Shanghai (now re-named the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals to be held at London’s O2 Arena in November).

In Saturday’s first semi-final, Chardy appeared on the brink of defeat as second seed Ferrer broke for a third time and served for the match at 6-1, 5-4, 40-30. However, the 61st-ranked Chardy rallied to break back and force a second set tie-break. Ferrer had two more opportunities for victory when he led 6-5 and 8-7, but he failed to convert and Chardy levelled the match by winning the tie-break 11-9. No breaks in the deciding set led to another tie-break, which Chardy raced through to secure victory after two hours and 32 minutes.

Chardy, who celebrates his 22nd birthday on Thursday, opened the 2009 ATP World Tour season with a quarter-final showing at Sydney (l. to Gasquet) before losing in the Australian Open second round to World No. 3 Novak Djokovic. The Pau native enjoyed a career-best season in 2008, reaching two ATP World Tour quarter-finals and finishing in the Top 100 at No. 73 in the South African Airways ATP Rankings for the first time.

Chardy is looking to become the first player to win his first ATP World Tour title this season. In 2008 there were 11 first-time winners on the ATP World Tour circuit.

The 26-year-old Ferrer, who had not dropped a set en route to the semi-finals, was bidding to reach his 13th ATP World Tour final. It is the second semi-final defeat he has suffered this season, having also fallen to Sam Querrey in Auckland.

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