AFP - Jo-Wilfried Tsonga overcame swirling on-court winds to beat his compatriot Richard Gasquet for a place in the quarter-finals at the Japan Open tennis tournament on Thursday.
The 2008 Australian Open finalist and second seed displayed fine reflexes at the net to complete a 4-6, 6-2, 6-2 win played out as winds from Typhoon Melor lashed the country.
Defending champion Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic outclassed Andreas Beck of Germany 6-4, 6-1, while Australian former world number one Lleyton Hewitt eliminated France's Fabrice Santoro 3-6, 6-3, 6-1.
Tsonga described the nearly unplayable conditions as "very tough" after his 99-minute second-round match. "I think I served better than (Gasquet). That made the difference," he added.
After the two Frenchmen squared the contest at one set all, Gasquet double-faulted on a break point to go 0-1 down in the first game of the final set.
In comparison, Tsonga unleashed aces to defend against two break points in the fourth game to increase his lead to 3-1.
Tsonga, ranked seventh against Gasquet's 53rd, took a comfortable 0-40 triple break opportunity in the eighth game when a Gasquet backhand pass went wide, before calmly serving out for the match.
In the quarter-finals on Friday, he will take on Latvian qualifier Ernests Gulbis, who defeated Juan Monaco when the Argentine retired at 6-3, 4-1.
Another qualifier, Edouard Roger-Vasselin of France, who shocked Juan Martin del Potro in the first round on Tuesday, continued his run by beating Austria's Jurgen Melzer 4-6, 6-2, 6-3 to set up a meeting with Hewitt.
Earlier in the day, Hewitt dashed Santoro's first and last visit to Tokyo in one hour 51 minutes.
The veteran 36-year-old Frenchman, who is due to retire at the end of the season, watched his one-set advantage dissolve into a three-set loss to the eighth seed.
"I've never been in Japan. This year is my last year (on the tour) and I couldn't end my career without coming to Tokyo," said Santoro, ranked 42nd in the world.
"I wanted to win the match today and stay here till the weekend."
In the last match of the day, Russia's Mikhail Youzhny squeezed through to a 7-6 (7/5), 6-7 (5/7), 6-4 victory over Gilles Simon of France for a place against Berdych.