Tsonga edges Monfils in all-French semi
Issued on: Modified:
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga has defeated fellow Frenchman Gaël Monfils in the semi-finals of the Tokyo Open. The second seed will face Russia's Mikhail Youzhny, who battled past former world number one Lleyton Hewitt.
REUTERS - Jo-Wilfried Tsonga powered to a quick-fire 6-3 6-3 win over fellow Frenchman Gael Monfils on Saturday to reach the final of the Japan Open.
Mikhail Youzhny stands between the world number seven and a third title of year after the Russian's 6-2 5-7 7-5 victory over eighth seed Lleyton Hewitt in the first semi-final.
"I felt like I had so much power," second seed Tsonga told reporters after hammering his close friend in less than an hour. "I was able to do anything I wanted.
"The last time I felt like that was in Marseille at the beginning of the year," added Tsonga, who has yet to secure a place in the season-ending World Tour Finals in London, exclusive to the world's top eight.
"Tomorrow is going to be very tough. Youzhny has beaten some good players but I expect to play aggressive again."
Tsonga broke through in the fourth game of the first set courtesy of an athletic forehand volley, and fourth seed Monfils had no answer to his opponent's superior firepower.
The second set followed a similar pattern, Tsonga charging the net to put away another sharp volley and go ahead 5-3, and he ended proceedings with his ninth ace after just 55 minutes.
Youzhny, who beat defending champion Tomas Berdych in the quarter-finals, overpowered Hewitt in a one-sided opening set.
He saved three break points at 4-4 in the second with two astonishing running backhands down the line and a superb volley off a fierce Hewitt return.
Youzhny suddenly went off the boil, however, blasting a backhand long to gift Hewitt a break in the 11th game, and the Australian levelled the match with a whipped forehand winner.
The deciding set went with serve until Youzhny broke to clinch victory with a wicked backhand slice into the corner that a scrambling Hewitt could only dump into the net.
"It's the best tennis I've played for a long time," said Youzhny, who shot to prominence after coming back from two sets down in the decisive rubber to win the 2002 Davis Cup final for Russia against France.
"I've played some good matches here and there but not consistently.
"I've won four matches here and played at a high level," added Youzhny after reaching his second ATP Tour final of the year. "I hope it continues."
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