By Chris Oddo Photo Credit: AFP/ Getty Images
Each player reached his 200th career win in Marseille today, setting up a sure-to-be entertaining semifinal between two of the world’s most electrifying players.
Tsonga was first to go through, as he took out his compatriot Edouard Roger-Vasselin in straight sets. Though the scoreline indicates ease, Tsonga did have his trying moments against the world No. 95. “In the field, there were two players of equal level. The difference was on the important points,” said Tsonga. “I'm getting used to this kind of situation, these tense moments.”
Tsonga hit 14 aces and saved 10 of 11 break points against Roger-Vasselin.
The 26-year-old is searching for his second title of the year and he’ll try to reverse a career record of 1-3 vs. Del Potro when they meet tomorrow.
Much like Tsonga, Del Potro struggled in his straight set 7-5, 7-6(5) win over Frenchman Richard Gasquet today. But when difficult situations arose, the Argentine was able to dig deep for the clutch shots that have become his calling card.
He fought off two set points from 4-5 in the first set with a forehand winner and an ace, then broke Gasquet in the next game to take the lead. In the second set, he blew a break lead, then faced a set point at 5-6, 30-40, but fought it off by hitting a service winner.
All the while, Gasquet kept hitting remarkably passing shots and serving some bombs of his own, but Del Potro eventually prevailed in the tiebreaker when he won the last three points.
Elsewhere in Marseille, 2010 champion Michael Llodra ended the run of hard-serving qualifier Albano Olivetti 7-6(5), 7-5, and Janko Tipsarevic snatched the last semifinal spot when he ousted veteran Ivan Ljubicic, 6-4, 6-4.