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Monfils and Tsonga set up all-French Tokyo semi

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Originally published on: 26/02/10 11:47

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga rallied from a set down to beat qualifier Ernests Gulbis 4-6 6-4 6-3 and set up a semi-final showdown with compatriot Gael Monfils at the Japan Open.

World No.7 Tsonga, still bidding to secure his place in the season-ending Barclays ATP World Tour Finals, hit eight of his 19 aces during the third set of a tight affair with the resurgent Latvian, including two to close out the match at the Ariake Colosseum in Tokyo.

Gulbis looked set to post another upset after beating No.6 seed Radek Stepanek in the first round, but betrayed a strong serving performance with a double-fault that handed the world No.7 the second set.

“It’s difficult when a guy is serving well like that – I just tried to stay focused”

“It’s difficult when a guy is serving well like that,” said Tsonga, who beat the world No.98 in an even closer encounter in Bangkok last week. “I just tried to stay focused.

“I had a break at the end of the second set which was good for me because he was a bit nervous after that.”

Tsonga will play compatriot Gael Monfils for the second time in their careers after the world No.13 recovered to beat Stanislas Wawrinka 2-6 6-3 6-4.

The Frenchman made little impact against the Swiss’ serve in the first set, while three double faults helped Wawrinka break twice.

But Monfils raised his game in the second and third sets, denying Wawrinka another break point opportunity in the match and claiming a single break in each set to seal the win.

In the other half of the draw, No.8 seed Lleyton Hewitt raced into the semi-finals with a 6-4 6-0 win over qualifier Edouard Roger-Vasselin.

“Today the whole second set I served extremely well which made life easier,” said former champion Hewitt, who broke five times in the 67-minute match.

Hewitt, who won here in 2001, will face Mikhail Youzhny in the final four after the Russian knocked out defending champ Tomas Berdych 6-2 7-6(6).

Youzhny, who lost narrowly to Berdych in May, said he had been determined not to let that happen again.

“It’s always close when we play,” Youzhny said. “I lost to him by one point in Munich so I didn’t want that to happen again.”

Berdych was furious with the result, smashing his racket as he left the court.

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