The second-seeded Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga won his maiden tour title after stunning the top seed Novak Djokovic 7-6, 6-4 at the Thailand Open yesterday. Tsonga exacted his revenge for his loss to Djokovic in this year's Australian Open final with a determined performance to deny the Serb his fourth title of the year. The Bangkok tournament was the hard-hitting Frenchman's second since returning from a three-month layoff following knee surgery.
"This win is very special, I've wanted this since I was young," Tsonga said. "This is a dream come true. I'm happy to win, Novak is a great player." Tsonga, who burst on to the scene as an unseeded giant-killer at the Australian Open, said he had feared playing the world No 3 because he knew his game too well. "I was nervous about playing him, it's difficult with my game," he said. "If you hit the ball hard at him, he hits it back harder. In tennis, you have to enjoy the moment. It's great to win at last and I want to win more."
Tsonga overcame a hail of topspin forehands from Djokovic, picking off the Serb with a combination of powerful serves and inch-perfect drop shots. In a tight second set Tsonga took control of the match when he broke Djokovic at 4-4 before staving off three break points. Tsonga turned the game around and took it to match point. He forced the Serb into a desperate lob that landed beyond the baseline before clenching both fists and falling on to his back in celebration. "I was thinking 'he cannot break me in this game'," Tsonga said with a smile. "This was my game."
Meanwhile, the American Andy Roddick won the China Open yesterday, ending the dream run of the unseeded Israeli Dudi Sela with a 6-4, 6-7, 6-3 victory. The former US Open champion looked to be on his way to a quick win after wrapping up the first set in 30 minutes, but Sela fought back to force a tie-break and push the final to a decider. Having stunned Roddick with winners from all angles of the court, Sela, 23, faltered when serving at 2-3 in the final set. Roddick pounced on the chance, seizing the break after scrambling to reach a drop-shot and forcing the Israeli to push the ball wide.
Maria Kirilenko rallied from a set down to claim the Korea Open with a 2-6, 6-1, 6-4 win over Samantha Stosur yesterday. * Agencies