In a French derby that looked very entertaining, Lucas Pouille defeated Tsonga to take his fourth career title, the third in 2017, reducing Tsonga’s chances to make it to World Tour Finals to the minimum.
A few weeks ago, Tsonga seemed to be out of the race for London’s ATP Finals, but his great results on indoor hard have shown something very different. The Frenchman is known for elavating himself on this surface and so he didn’t give up, but tried to earn the most points he could. After he reached the quarterfinals in St.Petersburg, the 32-year-old took the European Open in Antwerp without dropping a single set. He decided to fight for the title in Vienna too.
After two very tough three-set-victories against Karen Khachanov and Damir Dzumhur to start the week in Vienna, the crucial moment came in his quarterfinal match, where he faced world #4 Alexander Zverev, the No. 1 seed. Tsonga surprisingly prevailed in straight sets, showing amazing mental strength and also a very powerful game. Tsonga was down a break in both sets but managed to come back easily both times. In the semifinal he defeated Philipp Kohlschreiber and in the final match he had to face fellow frenchman Lucas Pouille.
The final – Match analysis
The match looked very interesting and it was set to be a great battle between both French players, but in the end Pouille was the one to prevail.
In the first set two breaks by Pouille made the difference, as Tsonga looked a bit lost on court; maybe he was way too focused about what a win could have meant to him. Pouille looked very solid instead and so the 23-year-old jumped up 6-1.
The second set was more hard-fought than the first, Pouille got a very important break in the fifth game. Tsonga tried to come back and on 3-5 he had a chance to break back, but Pouille managed to save it. This would remain Tsonga’s only break point of the match as the younger player would easily hold in the next two service games to close out the set with the score of 6-4.
Pouille took his fourth career title, the third this year, becoming the only player to win on three different surfaces this year.
What this loss means to Tsonga
After earning 550 points in two weeks, Tsonga needed a win in Vienna’s final in order to hold his chances to reach the World Tour Finals in London, but unfortunately he could not. Now the situation is very complicated. There are only two places left to qualify, and Tsonga is actually 14th in the race; this means that, excluding Stan Wawrinka, Novak Djokovic, and Nick Kyrgios–who all decided to call it a season–there are five players in front of the Frenchman, and that he could qualify only with a very difficult combination of results in Paris-Bercy Masters, the last tournament of the season. Even a title wouldn’t necessarily mean qualification for the 32-year-old, that’s why only a miracle could “save” him.
David Goffin and Pablo Carreno Busta are the ones who currently are in the last two places, but they will have to fight with Sam Querrey, Kevin Anderson, Juan Martin del Potro, and of course Tsonga.