Tsonga Ousts Cilic, Now Faces Berdych In Rotterdam
Fans can watch a schedule of top talent in Rotterdam on Friday
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga held his nerve on Friday to book a place in the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament semi-finals where he will meet Tomas Berdych. The Czech leads Tsonga 8-3 in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series, including a 7-5, 6-3 win at the Qatar ExxonMobil Open last month.
"Tomas is very consistent, with a full game: very consistent and covers the court well,” said Tsonga, ahead of their clash on Saturday. “The best strategy is to play well!” Berdych admitted, "My own game will be extremely important tomorrow, as I will try to dictate from the very beginning. I need to be focused from the first point.”
Sixth seed Tsonga, who finished runner-up to Robin Soderling in the 2011 Rotterdam final, saved two set points in the first set tie-break to beat top seed and 2014 runner-up Marin Cilic 7-6(10), 7-6(5) in just over two hours.
Tsonga led 5/1 in the first set tie-break, but could not convert three set point chances at 6/3. Cilic fought back by winning four straight points, but squandered his own set points at 7/6 and 8/7. Tsonga took his first opportunity in the second set tie-break to record his first win over Cilic since August 2011 at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati, and he is now one match win away from recording the 400th tour-level victory of his career.
“I’m really happy with the victory as the most important thing is that I played good tennis from the start to the end,” said Tsonga. “I have been feeling great the past couple of months, including a quarter-final at the Australian Open. Marin is a very good player and difficult to play against as he has an all-round game."
Earlier in the day, fourth seed Berdych moved one step closer to his third final at the Rotterdam Ahoy, venue of the ATP World Tour 500 tournament, where he has a 19-7 record.
Berdych, who beat Cilic in the 2014 final, knocked out defending champion Martin Klizan 6-3, 6-3. Berdych broke twice in the first set – in the fifth and ninth games, then for a 3-1 lead in the second set in an assured 59-minute performance.
"It was my best performance so far," said Berdych, who also finished runner-up to Stan Wawrinka in 2015. "It was a goal every match to try to improve. So far, I am very pleased. It’s a good feeling to be in another [Rotterdam] semi-final, as I know I can play good tennis on this court."
Third seed David Goffin takes on fifth seed Grigor Dimitrov, already a winner of two ATP World Tour titles in 2017, during the first match of Friday's evening session. Qualifier Pierre-Hugues Herbert faces second seed Dominic Thiem in the final match of the day.
Dutchmen Advance To Doubles SFs
Wild cards Wesley Koolhof and Matwe Middelkoop delighted Dutch supporters by beating fourth seeds Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo 7-6(2), 6-3 in 87 minutes for a place in the semi-finals against 2015 titlists Jean-Julien Rojer and Horia Tecau. The Dutchmen are 3-0 in ATP World Tour finals, including a title run at last month’s Apia International Sydney (d. Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares).