French Open: David Ferrer beats Jo-Wilfried Tsonga to reach final
Last Updated: 08/06/13 1:41pm
David Ferrer beat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in straight sets in the French Open to reach his first Grand Slam final.
The Spaniard won 6-1 7-6 6-2 to end Tsonga's hopes of becoming the first French men's winner at Roland Garros since 1983.
He will now face compatriot Rafael Nadal in Sunday's final after Nadal beat Novak Djokovic 6-4 3-6 6-1 6-7 9-7 earlier.
It was a richly deserved reward for outstanding perseverance on the part of 31-year-old Ferrer, who reached his maiden major final in his 42nd appearance at a Grand Slam, by far the longest wait in the open era.
The match had been given top billing in France as the belief was growing that the popular Tsonga could repeat the feat of Yannick Noah, who last won the title for France 30 years ago.
But coming immediately after the marathon five-set win by Nadal over Djokovic in the opening semi-final, there was a sense of anti-climax when the players marched out onto a half-empty centre court in the early evening sunshine.
The mood was not helped either when Ferrer made by far the better start, jumping out into a 4-0 lead in just 15 minutes. The crowd chanted Tsonga's name in a bid to kick-start his match, but little was going right for the Frenchman who was playing in his first French Open semi-final in what was his sixth attempt.
He did have a break point in the following game, but failed to convert that as he found himself embroiled in a succession of punishing baseline rallies - bread and butter to a player like Ferrer.
The Spaniard, who lost to Nadal in last year's semi-finals, duly wrapped up the set 6-1 and Tsonga was left looking decidedly tight and unable to deploy his own big-hitting game.
Tsonga nosed in front at the start of the second set and that appeared to briefly unlock the door for the Frenchman as he broke to love in the following game.
He took a 3-0 lead, but Ferrer broke back to 3-2 with Tsonga hotly contesting a line call against him on break point. A double fault from the home hero handed Ferrer another break to lead 4-3, but he handed that back in the next game with a couple of uncustomary unforced errors.
Tsonga hit long on set point at 5-4 and that proved costly as he dropped the ensuing tie-break 7/3 to go two sets to love down.
French hopes were fading fast and they dimmed even further early in the third set as Ferrer broke in the fourth game to lead 3-1. That was all he needed as an increasingly frustrated Tsonga looked bereft of ideas and lost in his own thoughts, at one point forgetting to tell Ferrer he was serving with new balls.
Ferrer got to 5-2 up and won five points in a row from 40-0 down on Tsonga's serve to clinch the win and set up Sunday's final against seven-time champion Nadal, who leads their career head-to-head 19-4.