As if it was fate, the Moselle Open in France this week, 2 Frenchman on the return from injuries, the top 2 seeds in the tournament, one final. And here they are, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (Player Profile) and Gilles Simon (Player Profile), ready for their eighth meeting in front of a jubilant home crowd today celebrating the guarantee of a Frenchman lifting the trophy for a fifth successive year.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga is the two time defending champion on an 11 match winning streak here and will hope that it won’t end tomorrow when he squares off against his compatriot. Yesterday’s semi-final proved to be another stern test against the 8th seeded German Florian Mayer. Tsonga had a slow start and dropped the opening set in this match, but eventually managed to prevail 4-6 6-2 6-3 without facing a break point in the final 2 sets. Some big serving gave him the edge in this match as he hit 9 aces, winning 79% of the points when getting his first serve in. It wasn’t one of his better performances and he will need to step up a notch against a higher quality opponent in the form of world number 16 Simon tomorrow. The key could be the serve and the capitalisation of break point chances.
Gilles Simon will compete in his second final on the ATP Tour this year like just like Tsonga. The last title he won on indoor hard courts was here in Metz back in 2010, without dropping a set. As I mentioned in Simon’s semi-final preview, his serving would be key, he won 80% of the points when getting his first serve in and didn’t face any break points yesterday in his 6-3 7-6 win over fellow Frenchman Nicolas Mahut. Simon felt very positive about his performance, considering his lack of match practice and is full of confidence going into the final.
Tsonga leads their head to head 5-2 and is unbeaten on this surface, they last met in Marseille early on this year with the world number 8 winning comprehensively 62, 62. It promises to be a close match though, with Simon arguably playing the better tennis, he won’t let his previous defeats get in the way, but Tsonga could pull it out of the back with his style of explosive tennis which we have become accustomed too seeing on the indoor hard courts here and elsewhere.