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Top Seed Tsonga, Defending Champ Isner To Clash For Final Spot

Winston-Salem, U.S.A.

Tsonga© Getty ImagesJo-Wilfried Tsonga advances to his fourth semi-final of 2012.

Top seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France and American defending champion John Isner will face off a place in the Winston-Salem Open final after both advanced with straight-sets wins Thursday. Isner leads Tsonga 2-1 in the FedEx ATP Head2Head series.

Tsonga cruised past sixth-seeded Spaniard Marcel Granollers 6-1, 6-2 in his quarter-final match, while No. 3 seed Isner defeated Belgian David Goffin 7-6(5), 6-3 to maintain his perfect record at this ATP World Tour 250 tournament.

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World No. 6 Tsonga won the first five games of his 53-minute match and broke Granollers two more times in the second set, going 4 for 5 on break point chances, to advance to his first semi-final since Wimbledon (l. to Murray).

“I’m very happy because I played a bit less than the two [previous] matches and also because I played very good tennis. For me it’s good. It’s good for the rest of the tournament,” said Tsonga.

In the night session, Isner lost just five points behind his first serve and fired 21 aces, while converting two of his eight break point chances against his 21-year-old opponent. Goffin was appearing in his second ATP World Tour quarter-final.

Read DEUCE: Isner: The Fire Within | On The Rise... Goffin

“I’m glad I got through these three matches,” said Isner. “These are three matches where, on paper, I’m the favourite. I should win, so I’m glad to have gotten to the semis now.

“I know I can win this tournament, but this is a heck of a field with the final four here. For a 250 event, it’s as tough as it gets. Three guys in the Top 10 and Sam Querrey, who the only reason he’s ranked 20-something is because he was out for almost a year.”

World No. 10 Isner has now reached the semi-finals or better in four of his past five tournament appearances, highlighted by the grass-court title in Newport last month (d. Hewitt). He was also a semi-finalist in his other two stops of the summer hard-court swing in Atlanta (l. to Roddick) and Toronto (l. to Gasquet).

Tsonga, who improved to a 40-15 season mark, will look to reach his 14th final and his first since the opening week of his 2012 campaign in Doha (d. Monfils). Isner, who has just one less win than Tsonga (39-15), will be attempting to reach his 12th final and fourth of the season.

In doubles action Thursday, top seeds Rohan Bopanna and Mariusz Fyrstenberg lost to the alternate duo of Pablo Andujar and Leonardo Mayer 6-7(6), 7-6(4), 10-4 in one hour and 47 minutes. Andujar and Mayer go on to face defending champions Jonathan Erlich and Andy Ram in the semi-finals.

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