Lucky No. 13: Tsonga Reigns In Rotterdam
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga wasn't satisfied in capturing his 400th match win this week at the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament. The Frenchman added to his haul with victory No. 401 on Sunday, claiming an impressive 4-6, 6-4, 6-1 comeback over David Goffin for the title.
Tsonga secured his 13th ATP World Tour crown and second at the 500 level (Tokyo 2009), ending a two-year title drought with a strong statement on the indoor hard courts of Rotterdam. On Saturday, the sixth seed downed Tomas Berdych to notch tour-level victory No. 400 and on Sunday he became the first Frenchman to triumph at the Ahoy Rotterdam since Michael Llodra in 2008.
"I'm really happy," said Tsonga. "These titles come at the right moments. The last couple of months I put in a lot of effort to come back to this level. It's a huge reward for me and it gives me new expectations for the rest of the year.
"I changed my serve and worked a lot on my backhand and my returns. I also changed my strings. There were many things to improve my game and do things better. Today it's a reward and I will try to be better and better. In the second set, I had another mentality on court. I was more aggressive and it made the difference."
Goffin sprinted out the gates and looked to be in control early. The 26 year old made significant progress against the Tsonga serve, holding break points in each of the Frenchman's first three service games and converting his fifth opportunity for a 2-1 lead. Goffin again pounced for a second break two games later and was in command after taking the opener.
Tsonga stepped up his intensity in the second set, however, using his agility and fearless forehand to disrupt the Belgian's steady game. Two massive inside-out forehands gave the Frenchman a pair of set points at 5-4 15/40 and he would eventually send the encounter to a decider on his fifth chance. The World No. 14 carried the momentum into the third set, taking a stranglehold on the championship with a pair of quick breaks for a commanding 5-0 advantage. He would secure the title after one hour and 56 minutes, firing an overhead smash at the net.
Six years after first reaching the Rotterdam final, having fallen to Robin Soderling in 2011, Tsonga finally wrapped his arms around the trophy. He claims 500 Emirates ATP Rankings points and €371,620 in prize money. The Le Mans native extended his FedEx ATP Head2Head edge over Goffin to 4-2, marking their first meeting since 2015, when the pair split encounters on the clay of Monte-Carlo and Rome.
Goffin, meanwhile, will make his Top 10 debut in the Emirates ATP Rankings on Monday, adding 300 Emirates ATP Rankings points and €182,185 in prize money. The milestone is a historic one for Belgium, with the Liege native becoming the first from his country to break into the elite level.
"It was a great week in the end," said Goffin, who was bidding for his third ATP World Tour title and first in three years. "There was a lot of emotion this week and I won a lot of matches. I was a bit tired today. I started the final really well, but in the end Jo played better than me, especially in the third set. Of course I'm disappointed, but I played some good tennis and will be in the Top 10 on Monday."