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Tsonga Prevents All-British Final At Queen's

London, England

Tsonga© Getty ImagesJo-Wilfried Tsonga dives for a shot in his straight-sets win over James Ward in the semi-finals.

World No. 19 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga ended British wild card James Ward’s giant-killing run at the AEGON Championships on Saturday as he prevailed 6-3, 7-6(7) to reach the final at The Queen’s Club. The Frenchman will now look to upset British tennis fans for the second day in a row when he faces World No. 4 Andy Murray in the final.

In reaching his first career ATP World Tour semi-final, the No. 216-ranked Ward had recorded back-to-back Top 30 wins over Stanislas Wawrinka and defending champion Sam Querrey. However, he quickly feel behind against 2008 Australian Open runner-up Tsonga, who broke serve in the second game and went on to close out the opening set.

The 24-year-old Ward made life difficult for Tsonga in a competitive second set, making the most of his opportunities to go up an early break as a spate of unforced errors from his French opponent proved costly in the second game. Tsonga hit back in the seventh game, though, and claimed victory in the decisive tie-break on his second match point as Ward fired a backhand passing shot wide after 82 minutes.

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"It was not the best match I did, but it was a semi-final and you have to win this match,” said Tsonga, who on Friday evening had ousted World No. 1 and last week’s Roland Garros champion Rafael Nadal in the quarter-finals. “I don't care about my level today, because the most important [thing] was to win. I did it. I'm in the final.

“Tomorrow I will play really relaxed, because I will play against Andy Murray. For the moment he's better than me, so I have nothing to lose. He's a fantastic player on grass court, so I will see tomorrow, but tomorrow I think I will play better, anyway.”

The 26-year-old Tsonga is looking to bring to an end a title drought lasting nearly two years; his last ATP World Tour trophy came in October 2009 in Tokyo (d. Youzhny). He will also look to become the first French winner of the singles title at The Queen’s Club in the Open Era.

Reflecting on his week, Ward said, "Obviously [I'm] a little bit disappointed. It's not nice to lose any time. Doesn't matter if it's to a top player or not so highly ranked. Obviously it's been a great week for me, and I hope to push on from here. I beat top players this week. It wasn't expected, but I always knew I could do it. Sometimes it does take a little while to come out. Hopefully I can finish in the Top 100 by the end of the year. It would be nice."

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© Hiroshi Sato

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