Tsonga triumphs in Qatar
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (File)
Doha - Jo-Wilfried Tsonga defied treacherous conditions to defeat French compatriot Gael Monfils 7-5, 6-3 on Saturday to win the 20th edition of the Qatar Open.
Third seeded Tsonga claimed his eighth career title and a third win in four meetings with Monfils on a day when the final had to be halted early in the first set because of fog and a slippery court.
"It was difficult. The surface was very slippery especially on the 'Qatar' sign painted on the court," said the 26-year-old Tsonga.
"It was dangerous but they did enough to make it OK. This is a good win for me going into the Australian Open, it's just amazing."
Monfils broke Tsonga in the opening game of the match, handing his compatriot just his third break of serve in the tournament.
But after Tsonga won the first point on Monfils’s serve, the match was suspended for a little over a half hour as fog caused slippery conditions on the baseline.
When the final resumed, Monfils consolidated the break, and kept his advantage until 5-3, when Tsonga wrestled the momentum away from his countryman.
Tsonga won 16 of the final 19 points, winning four straight games to clinch the set.
World No 6 Tsonga continued at this level, despite tumbling at the end of the fourth game of the second set.
He shook it off and on the next point, ran down a Monfils lob before stumbling at the back of the court. His efforts drew a smile from Monfils and roaring applause from the crowd.
Trailing 2-3, Monfils gifted Tsonga the lone break of the set with a forehand unforced error. Tsonga went on to close out the entertaining encounter in one hour and 57 minutes.
Tsonga is the third Frenchman to lift the Doha trophy, following triumphs by Nicolas Escude in 2004, and Fabrice Santoro in 2000.