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Rediff.com  » Sports » Tsonga sets up Djokovic semi-final

Tsonga sets up Djokovic semi-final

February 21, 2009 08:31 IST

Local favourite Jo-Wilfried Tsonga set up a mouth-watering semi-final clash with top seed Novak Djokovic of Serbia when he downed Spaniard Feliciano Lopez 6-2, 6-7, 6-4 at the Marseille Open on Friday.

World number three Djokovic breezed into the last four with a 6-3, 6-3 win over unheralded German Mischa Zverev.

The Marseille crowd was also offered an all-French semi-final.

Michael Llodra beat Russian Mikhail Youzhny 7-6, 7-6 and will face second seed Gilles Simon, who was merciless in a 6-2, 6-4 defeat of compatriot Julien Benneteau.

Djokovic, who beat Tsonga in the 2008 Australian Open final, has lost his last three matches against the Frenchman at the Masters Cup, the Paris Masters and the Bangkok Open.

"It is never a pleasant challenge to face Jo," Djokovic told reporters referring to the world number 12.

"He has been playing great tennis in the past four months and if he goes on like that, he will be in the top five."

Djokovic and Tsonga were uncompromising on their serve, with neither facing a single break point throughout.

However, fourth seed Tsonga lost the second set tiebreak 7-1 before breaking Lopez, seeded eighth, in the last game of the decider to wrap up the win after one hour and 44 minutes.

TOP FORM

Djokovic was on top form to make his task easy against Russia-born Zverev, the world number 76.

"Today, I returned well, I put him under constant pressure," said the Serb, who caused controversy last month by retiring during his Australian Open quarter-final against Andy Roddick.

"After I pulled out in Melbourne, I went back to Monte Carlo to undergo tests that proved that I was exhausted.

"I then resumed training gradually before coming to Marseille on Friday. It is important to arrive early since the conditions, the balls, the surface change in every tournament.

Llodra got nervous serving for his match at 5-4 in the second set but eventually prevailed in a second tiebreak.

"I got scared, I can't hide that," Llodra told reporters.

"I did not manage to deal with this moment of stress. Fortunately, I reacted well in the tie-break."

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