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France's Tsonga triumphs, qualifies for Shanghai Masters

Video by FRANCE 24

Text by AFP

Latest update : 2008-11-03

France's Jo-Wilfried Tsonga defeated defending champion David Nalbandian of Argentina 6-3, 4-6, 6-4, providing a first home win in seven years at the Paris Masters on Sunday and a chance to play at the Shanghai Masters.

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga provided a first home win in seven years at the Paris Masters on Sunday and in the process gatecrashed the prestigious Masters Cup in Shanghai.
The 23-year-old from Le Mans, who burst onto the world stage in January when he reached the Australian Open final, defeated defending champion David Nalbandian of Argentina 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 on the back of an outstanding service game that produced 25 aces.
The win ensured Tsonga grabbed the last of the eight slots for the season-closing Masters Cup and left Nalbandian to concentrate on the Davis Cup final against Spain in Mar del Plata.
Tsonga reached the final by defeating three top tenners in Novak Djokovic, to whom he lost in the Australian Open final, Andy Roddick, in a three-sets thriller, and James Blake in a semi-final blow out.
He immediately took command in front of a packed and partisan Bercy Sports Hall winning his opening serve to love and then grabbing a break when Nalbandian twice double-faulted.
Nalbandian did manage a break-point at 2-5 down, but another big serve from Tsonga foiled him and two games later Tsonga took the first set with a service winner on his third set point.
Tsonga had a break point in the first game of the second set but Nalbandian held him off and the contest levelled out with Tsonga imperial behind his huge serve and Nalbandian dominating the rallies when he could set them up.
The muscular Argentinian finally had a chance at 4-3 up when he reached 0-40 on Tsonga's serve, but a succession of piledrivers frustrated him as the home fans roared with delight.
Two games later, however, he found himself in an identical situation after some sloppy play from Tsonga and this time the Frenchman's serve did not come to his rescue as Nalbanian drew level on sets.
The tide appeared to be turning, but Nalbandian inexplicably produced a series of groundstroke errors in the third game of the deciding set to gift a vital service break to Tsonga.
Needing just to hold on to his formidable serve, the Frenchman looked a safe bet but signs that a troublesome left thigh was starting to cause him pain gave Nalbandian some room for hope.
The South American grafted out a break point to get back on level terms at 3-3. but once again Tsonga thwarted him with two aces and a service winner.
Four games later it was three break points for Nalbandian but he let them all slip by and a gleeful Tsonga pounced to clinch the biggest win of his career to date.
Tsonga is the first Frenchman to win here since Sebastien Grosjean in 2001 and in Shanghai from November 9-16 he will join defending champion Roger Federer, world No.1 Rafael Nadal, Djokovic, Andy Murray, Nikolay Davydenko, Roddick and Juan Martin del Potro.
It will be his first appearance in the Masters Cup.

Date created : 2008-11-02