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Metz Final Set: Tsonga To Meet Ljubicic

Metz, France

Top seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga reached the final of the Moselle Open in Metz on Saturday after defeating third seed Alexandr Dolgopolov 6-4, 6-4 in one hour and 17 minutes.

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The World No. 10, who stands in seventh place in the battle for the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals, was steady on serve, winning 75 per cent of his service points, hitting six aces to zero double faults while dropping serve just once. He secured a late break in the second set to end a two match losing streak against the Ukranian, who won earlier season meetings at the Australian Open and Sony Ericsson Open in Miami. “I am very happy today because I took a revenge on a player who beat me twice, because I'm earning points towards the London finals and because I am in the final here," Tsonga stated.

Tsonga, a finalist at Rotterdam (l. to Soderling) and London / Queen’s Club (l. to Murray), is looking to win his first singles title since hoisting the trophy in Tokyo two years ago, and can do so should he defeat Ivan Ljubicic in Sunday’s final. "It would be great to earn the title here, as it would be like the cherry on the cake," expressed Tsonga.

"Ivan is an amazing player who inspires me a lot. It's going to be very tough, I won and lost against him. His experience has always played a huge part on the matches I lost against him.”

In a battle of monster serves, 2005 champion Ljubicic prevailed, edging eighth-seeded Gilles Muller 7-6(3), 7-6(5) to advance. Ljubicic fired 26 aces to Muller’s 18 to take the clash in one hour and 51 minutes. "I served extremely well... it feels great to have my serve back," said Ljubicic.

"Today I think my concentration was very important but also experience and luck played a part, especially in the first set tie-break. It wasn’t easy as we both have a very similar game."

There were no breaks of serve in either set, so both came down to tie-breaks, and it was Ljubicic who grabbed early leads in each. While he rolled through the first tie-break, Ljubicic relinquished a 4-2 advantage in the second one to enable Muller to get back on serve. But at 5-5, Ljubicic regained the lead and served out the match to reach his first final of the year, and first since finishing runner-up to Gael Monfils in Montpellier last October.

Ljubicic, ranked 29th in the South African Airways ATP Rankings, is bidding to win his 11th ATP World Tour title. His latest triumph came in 2010, when he made a magical run at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells to claim his first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 crown.

The 32-year-old Croat holds a 3-2 edge against Tsonga in their head-to-head series, with the two splitting their meetings this season. Tsonga beat Ljubicic in the Rotterdam semi-finals and Ljubicic avenged the loss in the second round of the Mutua Madrid Open. “I will be playing Jo tomorrow, so I am still very far from becoming the first player to win twice here in Metz," Ljubicic said. "It would be great but it is going to be very tough. He is a great player and he will have all the crowd with him.”

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