Tsonga Tops Simon For Third Metz Title
In a rematch of the 2013 final, which Simon won in straight sets, Tsonga prevailed 7-6(5), 1-6, 6-2. Appearing in the Metz title match for the fourth time in five years, the 30 year old added to crowns earned in 2011 (d. Ljubicic) and 2012 (d. Seppi), boosting his bid to qualify for the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals in scoring 250 Emirates ATP Rankings points. Tsonga keeps pace with Simon and Milos Raonic, who also won on Sunday in St. Petersburg, remaining in the 15th spot in the Emirates ATP Race To London.
"I'm really happy to win again here in Metz," said Tsonga. "I like the welcome I get here and to win this year is great. It's my first of the year and I hope it will continue. It's a good achievement for me.
"Gilles is very difficult to play against. You need energy with each ball you play against him. He's a good defender and is always ready to play passing shots. When I play against him it's always tough."
Tsonga was forced to dig in his heels in the early stages, surviving three straight deuce games on serve to open proceedings. Simon's consistency rattled his countryman and Tsonga's unforced error count began to rise. But the former World No. 5 was clutch in the big moments, denying a total six break points with four service winners, including three aces. The first set would come down to a tie-break and Tsonga would rally once again, storming back from 5-2 down to reel off five straight points and take the opener in 65 minutes.
Tsonga saved Simon's seventh break opportunity with another ace in the second game of the second set, but Simon would capitalise on No. 8, securing the first break of the match with a rifled backhand pass. Tsonga was poised to break back immediately with a 0/40 lead in the next game, but the steady Simon would hold and force a third set.
In the decider, Tsonga rediscovered his first set form and two let cord forehands that dribbled over would aide him in breaking for 3-1 and eventually sealed Simon’s fate. He converted on his second match point four games later to prevail after two hours and 16 minutes.
Tsonga improved to 7-3 in the FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalry and pulled level with Simon and Richard Gasquet for second on the list of French titlists in the Open Era. The trio trails only Yannick Noah (23). In addition, Tsonga extended the run of home grown dominance in Metz, becoming the sixth Frenchman to triumph in the past seven years.
Simon, who was bidding for his third Metz crown (2010, ‘13), falls to 12-6 in ATP World Tour finals. He takes home €42,100 and 150 Emirates ATP Rankings points.