Top-seeded Jo-Wilfried Tsonga will aim for his third straight Open de Moselle title when he plays Gilles Simon in an all-French final on Sunday, with both players chasing their 11th career title.
Tsonga rallied past eighth-seeded Florian Mayer of Germany 4-6, 6-2, 6-3 in the semifinals Saturday. Second-seeded Simon defeated Nicolas Mahut 6-3, 7-6 (2) to stay on course for his first title of the year.
Tsonga’s playing in his first tournament since a knee injury forced him to drop out of his second-round match at Wimbledon. It’s his first final since winning the Open 13 in Marseille in February.
Just like in Friday’s quarterfinals, Tsonga took time to find his range and dropped the first set. He looked leg-weary and was broken in his first service game, then struggled to hold his next game as Mayer pinned him to the back of the court with his looped returns.
"It’s thanks to the fans that I managed to hang in there and also because Florian Mayer has a little bit of a weakness in terms of endurance," Tsonga said. "It will be a different matter against Gilles. I noticed that he is playing very well."
Tsonga leads Simon 5-2 overall. All of Tsonga’s titles have been on hard courts, half of Simon’s on clay.
Tsonga started the second set aggressively and Mayer had to save two break points early on. In the fifth game, Tsonga paused before serving and then squatted down as if to test the flexibility of his knees.
He drew Mayer to the net on the next point and lobbed him to force another break point, which Mayer saved with a forehand pass.
Mayer saved another chance on his serve, but Tsonga finally broke him when he returned a weak second serve with a thumping forehand. He held at love, including an ace and a crosscourt winner from the back of the court, to move 5-2 ahead.
Tsonga didn’t face a break point in the third set. Simon did not face a single break point for the second consecutive match.
"I broke him early and was solid from the baseline," Simon said. "I’ve been practicing for a month before coming here. I needed to do that and I think that today was a pretty solid match."