25
Nov
11

Tsonga moves into the semifinals with a win over Nadal.

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Rafael Nadal was knocked out of the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals at the group stage as Jo-Wilfried Tsonga powered his way to a 7-6 (7/2) 4-6 6-3 victory over the world number two at London’s O2 Arena. Nadal’s thrashing at the hands of Roger Federer on Tuesday had put him into a straight shoot-out with Tsonga for the second semi-final place and, although he levelled the match in the second set, there was no denying the Frenchman in the decider. Nadal had taken a month off prior to the tournament with next weekend’s Davis Cup final against Argentina in mind, and he certainly lacked his usual sharpness. Tsonga played a superb match, though, to reach the semi-finals for the first time, and he said: “I just played amazing. It was not easy for me to come here against Rafa but I did it tonight and I’m very happy.” As well as a place in the semi-finals to play for, there was also something to prove for Nadal after his 6-3 6-0 thumping by Federer two nights ago.

While the scoreline was largely down to Federer being in a zone even Nadal cannot reach, the Spaniard’s cause was not helped by a lack of penetration on his serve and groundstrokes that has betrayed a lack of confidence at times this season. Tsonga, with his explosive shots and aggressive intent, would provide a real test on the relatively fast surface, some pundits even making him the favourite. And the Frenchman was certainly quick out of the blocks, testing Nadal’s famous defences from the off. It did not take long for them to wobble, Tsonga forcing two break points in the fourth game, but he could not take either.

Tsonga beat Nadal most recently at Queen’s this summer, one of only two wins he had managed in eight meetings prior to today, and it was all the world number two could do to keep pace in the early stages here.

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