Jo-Wilfried Tsonga claimed a second title in as many weeks as he blasted his way past French compatriot, Lucas Pouille, 6-4, 6-4, at the Open 13 in Marseille. The 31-year-old was forced to rally from a set down against David Goffin in the final of Rotterdam last week but his display was more serene against the rising Pouille. Tsonga gifted his opponent not one single break point opportunity and grabbed the vital break in either set to claim his second title of 2017.
The triumph moved the Frenchman to number seven in the ATP singles rankings.
Tsonga conceded beforehand that he would have to be wary of the resurgent Pouille, who rose tremendously up the ATP singles rankings last year but has wrestled with a foot injury in 2017.
The margins would be fine on Sunday’s showdown and Pouille was made to pay for his sluggish start, conceding the break to his countryman after netting a routine forehand.
Tsonga’s first-strike brand of tennis has drew him as many admirers as critics but his heavy-hitting game was working wonders to open the match, crashing a 141km/h forehand cross-court to consolidate the break.
Pouille, to his credit, regained his composure and slapped a forehand return down-the-line that had the cog’s in Tsonga’s mind beginning to turn.
Just as the 22-year-old was beginning to get a foothold in the final, holding to 15 in the fifth game, his elder statesman held to love for 4-2 and Pouille’s hopes of breaking back were diminishing.
Tsonga had the chance to claim the set on Pouille’s serve at 5-3 when he latched onto a timid backhand volley from the youngster but, eyeing up the space, could not convert.
The 22-year-old, and third-seeded Frenchman, did trouble Tsonga as he served for the set but sent a backhand into the net at 30-40 to confirm the inevitable.
Despite dropping to the opening set, Pouille’s confidence levels were not for plummeting and the US Open quarterfinalist added his name to the tweener reel in the opening game of the second set to hold.
Tsonga, though, was typically dominant on serve and it was telling that it was the junior Frenchman that was being forced to dig deeper just to merely hold.
And at 3-3, the 31-year-old smelled blood.
After holding to 15, Tsonga conjured a pair of break opportunities with an emphatic backhand winner down the line. The Jungle-like roar that emanated from the Frenchman must have shook Pouille as he sent a forehand long to grant Tsonga the initiative.
Thereafter, it was a procession for the veteran.
Pouille briefly offered resistant at 5-4, but, behind a sixth ace of the contest for Tsonga, he fashioned three championship points and duly converted after just under an hour and ten minutes.
After being plagued by injuries and going two years without a title, the Frenchman claimed his second in consecutive weeks.