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Rediff.com  » Sports » Tsonga beats Monfils to win misty Qatar Open

Tsonga beats Monfils to win misty Qatar Open

January 08, 2012 11:55 IST

World number six Jo-Wilfried Tsonga overcame fellow Frenchman Gael Monfils 7-5, 6-3 in the Qatar Open final to claim his eighth title in slippery conditions on Saturday.

World number 15 Monfils beat top seed Rafael Nadal in his semi-final while Tsonga received a bye when Roger Federer withdrew due to a back injury, giving the bulky Frenchman an extra day's rest.

That advantage ultimately told in the final although Tsonga started sluggishly before rallying from 5-3 down in the first set as he claimed nine of the next 11 games against a fading opponent.

"At the beginning of the match Gael was incredible, he was everywhere," Tsonga said in a court-side interview.

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga"I made him move a lot. Then he was a bit tired and ... my movement was really good."

Tsonga and Monfils, each seeking their first titles since October when they won in Vienna and Stockholm respectively, began the match as fog billowed past the stadium floodlights and moisture settled on court.

Play was suspended early on for 35 minutes with the finalists complaining about the wet court.

When the match resumed both men seemed tentative and hugged the baseline, with no respite from the mist.

At 6-5 down Monfils crumbled, losing his serve to love to concede the set. Tsonga showed no let up, serving to love in the second set opener to land his fifth straight game, a sequence that included winning 15 out of 16 points.

Monfils made it 1-1 but his anger simmered, shouting in frustration at one error, lobbing his racket after another.

He pummeled a forehand wide to gift his opponent the decisive break for a 4-2 lead and Tsonga saw out the match, earning two championship points with a nimble half-volley winner from mid-court.

Tsonga is keen to do well at the Australian Open that starts on January 16.

Like Qatar, the first Grand Slam tournament of the year is also played on an outdoor hard court.

"I have played a lot of matches and played well. I'm a very dangerous player on the speed surfaces - hard surfaces or grass," said the Frenchman.

"I have reached the final already in 2008 so maybe I can win there. I will leave this tournament with a lot of confidence."

 

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