ATP Rotterdam Final Preview: Jo-Wilfried Tsonga vs David Goffin - Can Tsonga halt Goffin's rise?

ATP Rotterdam Final Preview: Jo-Wilfried Tsonga vs David Goffin - Can Tsonga halt Goffin's rise?

The first ATP World Tour 500 title of the year is hanging in the balance as the Frenchman and Belgian vie for the title in the Netherlands.

john-lupo
John Lupo

Sixth seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and third seed David Goffin square off for the title at the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament. Tsonga is seeking his second career ATP 500 level championship, having previously won in Tokyo in 2009 while Goffin is aiming for his third career title.

How they got here

Tsonga has had a fairly comfortable path to the final, defeating Greek wild card Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-4, 7-6 (2) in the first round, Gilles Muller 6-4, 6-2 in round two, followed by upsets of top seed Marin Cilic 7-6 (5), 7-6 (8) in the quarterfinals and fourth seed Tomas Berdych 6-3, 6-4 in the semifinals.

Goffin has had a far harder time reaching the championship match. After a 6-3, 6-2 victory over Andrey Kuznetsov in the first round, the Belgian survived three-setters against Robin Haase 5-7, 6-4, 6-4 in the second round and Grigor Dimitrov 6-4, 1-6, 6-3 in the quarterfinals before a routine 6-1, 6-3 semifinal triumph over French qualifier Pierre-Hugues Herbert.

Head-to-head

Tsonga leads the overall series 3-2 and won their last meeting in three sets in the quarterfinals of Rome in 2015. Goffin won their only hard court meeting 1-6, 7-6 (5), 7-5 in the 2014 Metz quarterfinals.

How they match up

Tsonga is a very aggressive, hard-hitting player whose serve and groundstrokes benefit greatly from the perfect indoor conditions. He also is a competent volleyer and can use that to his advantage if he so chooses to. Goffin is a steady baseliner who relies on movement, footwork and precise shots, namely on his backhand side to win.

The key to the match will be how each man handles the nerves of the occasion with such a big title at stake as well as the length of rallies. Shorter, quicker points favor Tsonga while longer, grinding points give Goffin the advantage. The Belgian will also need to protect his second serve well.

Outlook

Goffin's win over Herbert placed him in the Top 10 for the first time in his career and a win here will see him jump to #7 in the new ATP rankings on Monday. Tsonga probably enters as a slight favorite, but Goffin should feel confident as he is playing some of the best tennis of his career. The Frenchman has a habit of getting tight in big moments and the Belgian is capable enough of taking advantage of any wobble. In what should be a very exciting, close match, Goffin should claim the biggest title of his career.

Prediction: Goffin in 3 sets

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