Tsonga Stuns Zverev To Bolster London Hopes
In the marquee match of the day, Tsonga stunned top seed Alexander Zverev, 7-6(6), 6-2, at the Erste Bank Open 500 to bolster his London hopes as the Emirates ATP Race To London comes to an exciting finale.
The Frenchman was 22nd in the Race at the beginning of last week. But after winning the title in Antwerp and now advancing to the semi-finals in Vienna, he is certainly in the hunt for one of the two remaining spots at the year-end finale at The O2 in London.
Tsonga is up to the No. 15 spot in the Race with 2,190 points and is the only seed remaining in the ATP World Tour 500 tournament. If he goes on to capture his fifth title of the season (Rotterdam, Lyon, Marseille and Antwerp) he will have 2,510 points, which would put him just 95 points behind Pablo Carreno Busta, who currently holds the final qualifying spot.
The 2011 Vienna champion entered Friday's match tied at 1-1 in his FedEx ATP Head2Head series with Zverev, with both matches going to three sets. But in Austria, Tsonga managed to find some of his best tennis to oust his opponent, who has already qualified for his first Nitto ATP Finals.
Zverev jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first set and got to 30/30 on Tsonga's serve, threatening to take a double-break lead. But the Frenchman began to find his range, frustrating the young German. While Zverev managed to overcome the disappointment of losing the tie-break to immediately break Tsonga in the first game of the second set, the 32-year-old right-hander would break three times himself to clinch the important victory.
And while convention says that a tournament’s seeded players should make their way through the draw, Tsonga, seeded eighth, is the only seed remaining.
He next faces Philipp Kohlschreiber, who defeated Diego Schwartzman, 7-5, 7-6(6), and will play in his fourth semi-final of the season. The German went down a late break in the first set, as Schwartzman served for the opener at 5-3. But Kohlschreiber bounced back to win four straight games to claim the first set. He then converted on his third match point in the second-set tie-break to move on in pursuit of his second title of the year (Kitzbühel).
Tsonga leads the pair's FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalry 10-1, with his last victory coming last year in Vienna.
It was Pouille’s third victory in a row against his fellow Frenchman, extending his lead in the pair’s FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalry to 3-1. The 23-year-old is into his sixth ATP World Tour semi-final of the season (3-2) as he seeks his third title of the year (Budapest, Stuttgart). Pouille also defeated Gasquet in Marseille this February, 7-5, 6-3, to advance to the final.
While the elder Frenchman, Gasquet, used his guile and consistency in the first set, it was Pouille whose aggression paid dividends in the key moments. Pouille used his overwhelming forehand to gain a 5/1 lead in the tie-break and never looked back from there, going on to break on three occasions in the second set.
Gasquet defeated second seed Dominic Thiem, the No. 6 in the Emirates ATP Rankings, in the second round.
Pouille will next play Great Britain’s Kyle Edmund, who advanced to his third semi-final of the year (Atlanta and Winston-Salem) by beating Jan-Lennard Struff of Germany, 6-2, 7-5, in 75 minutes. The pair is tied 1-1 in their Fed Ex ATP Head2Head series.