The finals of Japan Open, an ATP 500 event, pinned Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, the second seed, against Russian Mikhail Youzhny, a surprising finalist. Both men were trying to win their fifth career title and become the first conqueror of this tournament from their country. Tsonga came out on top 6-3, 6-3 over Youzhny to claim his third title of 2009.
With U.S. Open reigning champion Juan Martin Del Potro ousted in the first round, Tsonga as the highest remaining seed had a load on his shoulders. In addition, the Frenchman had his work cut out for him considering how well Youzhny had been playing. The Russian defeated third seed Gilles Simon, fifth seed and defending champion Tomas Berdych and eight seed Lleyton Hewitt. Moreover, Youzhny was parched for a trophy with his last being in January 2008. After each person held his opening service game, Youzhny had the initial opportunity to break when Tsonga sent a forehand wide. Yet, despite difficulties, Tsonga pulled off the game with expertly located serves and a forehand volley winner for 2-1. By steadying his backhand, up to that juncture, Youzhny kept his opponent on his heel. But, after Tsonga captured a service game at love for 4-3, Youzhny failed to connect on first serves and with a couple of backhand unforced errors was in a double break point hole. When the Russian misfired on the forehand up the line, the Frenchman had a 5-3 lead. Then at 40-0, Tsonga threw in an ace to wrap up the set.
After holding to open the second set, Youzhny erased two game points by Tsonga to get to deuce. This seemed the Russian’s opportunity to shift the tides. Subsequent to Tsonga obtaining game point with an ace, Youzhny produced a beauty of a backhand volley for deuce. Yet, in the end, Tsonga’s serve made the difference; he closed out the game with back to back aces. Thereafter, just as in the first set, each player had no problem on serve until the critical seventh game. Following a love hold by Tsonga for 3 all, Youzhny missed a backhand pass. Later, Tsonga struck a superb forehand up the line winner then dipped a forehand pass at Youzhny’s shoe laces to get an error and triple break point. When Youzhny dumped his backhand into the net, Tsonga took a 4-3 advantage. After consolidating at love, Tsonga erased a game point by Youzhny. When the Frenchman sprinted up to a dropshot and pushed it for a backhand crosscourt winner, he arrived at match point. On the next stroke, a forehand crosscourt winner, Tsonga claimed the trophy.
By coming out on top, Tsonga boosted his chances of earning one of the remaining spots at the year end championship in London. The Frenchman can further improve his stance with a strong showing in Shanghai this upcoming week. World number 3 Andy Murray withdrew from the Japan Open prior to play beginning due to a wrist injury and will also be absent in Shanghai along with Roger Federer.