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Tsonga Boosts Finals Campaign With Tokyo Win

Tokyo, Japan

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga© Getty ImagesJo-Wilfried Tsonga captured his third ATP World Tour title of the season.

ATP World Tour No. 7 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga strongly boosted his campaign to qualify for the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals in November by clinching his third ATP World Tour title of the season Sunday in Tokyo. The second seed cruised to a 6-3, 6-3 victory over Russian Mikhail Youzhny in the final of the Rakuten Japan Open Tennis Championships.

With victory at the ATP World Tour 500 hard-court tennis tournament, Tsonga received 500 South African Airways 2009 ATP Ranking points and $300,000. The Frenchman is pushing for one of the three remaining singles berths at the season climax, to be held at the O2 in London, 22-29 November. He clinched his place last year in dramatic style, defeating David Nalbandian in a winner-take-all final at the BNP Paribas Masters.

"I am so happy to win another title and this puts me closer to (qualifying for the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals in) London," said Tsonga. "I have so much confidence now going into Shanghai ATP Masters 1000 and the indoor events. It's a great time of the year for me."

The No. 1 Frenchman is the sixth player this year to win three or more ATP World Tour titles, having also triumphed at the SA Tennis Open (d. Chardy) in Johannesburg and the Open 13 (d. Llodra) in Marseille in February.

Since finishing runner-up to Novak Djokovic in his first tour-level final at the 2008 Australian Open, Tsonga has won five ATP World Tour titles from five finals, beginning with victory at the PTT Thailand Open (d. Djokovic) last year.

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Prior to their second meeting, Tsonga admitted he expected a tougher match from his Russian opponent, whom he defeated in straight sets on his exhilarating route through to the 2008 Australian Open final. The right-hander, who had eased past countryman Gael Monfils in the semi-finals, produced another polished display, though, to seal a comfortable victory after only 69 minutes.

"I just played so well in the semi-finals and final here," commented Tsonga. "I don't know what happened but I just felt so comfortable on court."

Tsonga struck 11 aces and won 79 per cent of points behind his first serve, while saving the one break point he faced. He was also quick to take his chances on Youzhny’s delivery, breaking serve once in the first set and twice more from three opportunities in the second set. The 24 year old improved to a 48-16 mark on the season.

"I had some chances at the beginning but then he played too good," lamented Youzhny. "Maybe I missed a couple of shots but he gave me no chance from 3-3 in the first set."

The Le Mans native is the third Frenchman to win an ATP World Tour title in the past three weeks, following Monfils’ victory at the Open de Moselle (d. Kohlschreiber) and Gilles Simon’s triumph at the PTT Thailand Open (d. Troicki).

The No. 49-ranked Youzhny, who defeated three seeded players in succession to reach the final, was chasing his first ATP World Tour title since January 2008, when he lifted the Aircel Chennai Open trophy (d. Nadal). He also lost out in the BMW Open final to Tomas Berdych in May.

"I am happy with the week here but it always hurts to lose, it doesn't matter if it's first round or the final," said Youzhny.

The 27 year old, who has a 4-6 mark in ATP World Tour finals, received 300 South African Airways 2009 ATP Ranking points and $126,000 in prize money.
 

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