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Nishikori Ends Tsonga's London Hopes; Faces Another Contender, Gasquet, Next

Paris, France

Gasquet© AFP/Getty ImagesRichard Gasquet kept alive his hopes of qualifying for the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals on Tuesday in Paris.

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga saw his bid to qualify for the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals come to an end on Tuesday night at the BNP Paribas Masters.

Kei Nishikori saved two match points in the deciding set tie-break to defeat Tsonga, the eighth seed and 2008 champion, 1-6, 7-6(4), 7-6(7) in the second round.

"I believe he managed well, because I could have won that match," said Tsonga. "He was very solid, especially during the important moments of the match."

Tsonga was ruthlessly efficient in the first set, winning all 12 of his first service points. Nishikori led 4-1 in the second set before Tsonga fought back. But 26 unforced errors in the set ultimately cost the local favourite.

Nishikori lost two of his service points – both double faults – en route to a tie-break in the decider. Tsonga led 3-1, but was pinned back. He double faulted on his first match point at 6-5 and Nishikori saved Tsonga’s second match point at 7-6 with a second serve ace.

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Despite the defeat and the end of his London bid, Tsonga drew positives from the match. "I played the kind of tennis I have to play all the time, and that's why I'm not totally down," said the Frenchman. "I believe there is something I can do for the future. Of course, I really have to improve my physical condition. I have to work a lot and very hard during the break. But if I'm able to play very solid matches like I played for the first set, it's going to be good."

Nishikori will face another Barclays ATP World Tour Finals contender, Richard Gasquet, on Thursday.

Gasquet kept alive his chances of qualifying for the first time since 2007 when the ninth seed defeated Fernando Verdasco 7-5, 6-7(6), 6-3 in a gripping and emotional victory over two hours and 41 minutes. It was the pair’s first FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting in more than two years. 

Gasquet could not convert two match point opportunities on Verdasco’s serve, when he led 6-5 in the second set and paid the price as Verdasco converted his fourth set point chance in the tie-break. Verdasco had led 6-3 in the tie-break, only to see Gasquet recover to 6-6. Gasquet then struck a mid-court backhand wide – his 22nd unforced error of the set. Verdasco went on to level the score.

"I felt bad," said Gasquet afterwards. "I had two match points and I was close to winning the match. There was a tie-break after that, and I thought it was very tough to lose that second set. Physically, it was tough. It could have turned around in his favor. I was lucky."

Gasquet sealed the crucial break at 3-3 in the decider and clung on to move to within three match wins of 350 career victories. Verdasco, who is bidding to qualify for the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals doubles with David Marrero, saved 14 of 18 break points. 

Mikhail Youzhny, who is in 14th position in the Emirates ATP Race To London, retired with a right elbow injury in the early stages of the third set against Kevin Anderson.

Anderson, who was leading Sunday’s Valencia Open 500 champion 4-6, 7-6(0), 2-1 after one hour and 51 minutes of play, goes on to meet Roger Federer. The Swiss will be looking to win on Wednesday in order to secure a spot at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals for a record-equalling 12th consecutive year.

The Barclays ATP World Tour Finals will be held at The O2 in London from 4-11 November.

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