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Tsonga Triumphs Over Monfils In Doha Final

Doha, Qatar

Tsonga© AFP/Getty ImagesTsonga became the third Frenchman to win the Doha title Saturday.

Third seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga captured the Qatar ExxonMobil Open title Saturday, defeating countryman Gael Monfils 7-5, 6-3 in the first all-French final in Doha. The tournament was celebrating it's 20th anniversary. "At the beginning of the match, it was a bit difficult because he broke me very early. It was tough. But in my head, everything was right," said Tsonga.
"I said, 'Okay, I'm one break down, but I will continue to play my game. I will make him run a lot.' So I hit a lot of shots to make him run. I think it was the good solution because then, after that, he was maybe a bit tired. After that, I was better than him. That's why I maybe won today."

The fourth-seeded Monfils broke Tsonga in the opening game of the match, handing the World No. 6 just his third break of serve in the tournament. But after Tsonga won the first point on Monfils’ serve, the match was suspended for a little over a half hour as fog caused slippery conditions on the baseline.

When the final resumed, Monfils consolidated the break, and kept his advantage until 5-3, when Tsonga wrestled the momentum away from his compatriot. Making use of delicate play at the net and a forceful forehand return, Tsonga won 16 of the final 19 points, winning four straight games to clinch the set. He won all five points when he came forward and converted both of his break points opportunities. Monfils struck seven winners to 14 unforced errors, and claimed just 30 per cent of his second serve points. "I think I had some opportunities in the first set, and I was maybe a bit less aggressive tonight to finish this first set," Monfils said. "And then I think he played better and better."

Tsonga continued his level of play, despite tumbling at the end of fourth game of the second set. He shook it off and on the next point, ran down a Monfils lob before stumbling at the back of the court. His efforts drew a smile from Monfils and a roaring applause from the crowd. Trailing 2-3, Monfils gifted Tsonga the lone break of the set with a forehand unforced error. Tsonga went on to close out the entertaining encounter in one hour and 57 minutes to win his eighth title. "I learned even when you are one break down, you don't need to panic," said Tsonga. "You need to stay yourself, stay really relaxed and play your game... I reacted really well. I played good tennis [and] I'm just really happy to win."  

With the victory, Tsonga became the third Frenchman to lift the Doha trophy, following triumphs by Nicolas Escude in 2004, and Fabrice Santoro in 2000. He improved his FedEx ATP Head 2 Head record against Monfils to a 3-1 mark, and upped his final record to 8-5. "It's really good for me because I played a lot of matches [this week]," Tsonga said. "I will leave this tournament with a lot of confidence, and it's good for me for the next tournament, which will be Melbourne."

Monfils was bidding to win his fourth title, and fell to 4-12 in title matches. "I think the conditions were a bit tough, but it was for both of us," said Monfils. "Today I was maybe less powerful than I was during this week, because I think Jo also played different. He was playing a bit soft and then changed the rhythm, [hitting] a bit hard and mixing it up with some slice."

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