By Chris Oddo / Tuesday, October 29, 2013
Richard Gasquet strengthened his bid to make the ATP World Tour Finals in Paris on Tuesday, while Jo-Wilfried Tsonga was eliminated.
Photo Source: AP
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga had already tossed in 15 aces during his three-set battle with Kei Nishikori, and in the third-set tiebreaker, with his ailing left knee bothering him, all he needed was one more to book a spot in the third round at the Paris Masters.
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It wasn't meant to be.
Tsonga double-faulted on his first of two match points and Kei Nishikori saved the second with a second-serve ace to became the first man to win a deciding set tiebreaker in four tries against Tsonga at the Paris Masters, 1-6, 7-6(4), 7-6(7).
Tsonga's London bid comes to an end with the loss. But the news wasn't all bad for the French.
Richard Gasquet, who outlasted Fernando Verdasco in three tough sets on Tuesday, is now in the driver's seat for the last qualification spot at the prestigious ATP World Tour Finals in early November.
Gasquet had lost five out of six matches against the Spaniard, but behind the support of the fired up French faithful, he finally broke through on his eighth break point of the final set to gain the upper hand against Verdasco. In the next game the world No. 10 saved three break points to lead 5-3, and he closed the match with his fourth break of the day, 7-5, 6-7(6), 6-3.
Gasquet needed five match points to get it done, as he squandered two in the second set and another two in the third before finally closing a pugilistic Verdasco out.
Many expected that Gasquet would face Tsonga in a heavily anticipated third-round all-French battle for the final London bid, but instead the Frenchman will battle Nishikori, with valuable ranking points on the line.
Tsonga had leads in both the second and third set tiebreakers against Japan's top player, but he appeared to be struggling with his knee as well. The visible symptoms would increase as the match progressed, and Tsonga took on more risk with his shots as a result.
The Frenchman finishes the season with a 39-16 record, but his year was marred significantly by the knee injury that he suffered at Wimbledon. He missed the U.S. Open but returned in the fall to reach a final in Metz and a semifinal at the Shanghai Masters.
Gasquet, who tied his career-best win total of 49 today, has three titles already in 2013, and was a U.S. Open semifinalist this season.
He is bidding for a second appearance at the year-end championships, and first since 2007.