Tsonga ousted by Benneteau

2010-02-20 20:34

Marseille - Defending champion Jo-Wilfried Tsonga was knocked out by French countryman Julien Benneteau 7-6 (11), 5-7, 7-6 (3) in a marathon semifinal at the Open 13 on Saturday.

Benneteau, playing for his first ATP title in his fourth career final, spoiled the chance of a repeat of the 2009 final, as last year's runner-up Michael Llodra advanced in the second semi.

Llodra defeated Mischa Zverev of Germany 6-1, 7-6 (3) to set up another all-French final.

Benneteau has lost finals at Kitzbuhel and Casablanca on clay and at Lyon's indoor tournament. He has won five doubles titles, including with Tsonga at last year's Shanghai Masters.

Tsonga served 23 aces to Benneteau's 13.

Although the second-seeded Tsonga looked the stronger player in the third set, Benneteau opened up a 6-1 lead in the tiebreaker.

Tsonga saved two match points with aces, but the eighth-seeded Benneteau closed it out when Tsonga returned long after nearly three hours.

Tsonga, a former Australian Open finalist, served for the first set at 5-4 but was broken by Benneteau, who took the tiebreaker after having saved set points at 8-7, 9-8 and 10-9.

Benneteau served for the match at 5-4 in the second set but a wild forehand enabled Tsonga to level and then hold for 6-5. Tsonga put the pressure on Benneteau's next service game, and broke to level the match.

Benneteau evened his series with Tsonga at 3-3.

Unseeded Llodra served 13 aces and broke Zverev's serve three times in his third straight win over the Moscow-born German.

Llodra won the match when Zverev returned the Frenchman's second serve long and will play for his fourth career title.