Tsonga, Berdych close in
Czech star just one win away from reaching Tour Finals in London
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Tomas Berdych need just one more win at the Paris Masters to book their places at the season-ending ATP World Tour Finals in London.
Both men moved within touching distance of a place in the elite eight-man field by winning their second-round matches in the French capital on Tuesday.
Tsonga delighted the home crowd with a 6-3 6-4 victory over Guillermo Garcia-Lopez during the evening session.
He broke in the eighth game and then served out the first set before suffering a slight wobble in the second.
Tsonga, the champion here in 2008, lost his serve for the one and only time to fall 4-2 behind but simply produced an excellent return game to hit straight back.
It was the first of a run of four straight games which sealed Tsonga’s place in the third round where he will face either Nicolas Almagro, another man who still harbours hopes of reaching London, or Andreas Seppi.
Afterwards, Tsonga told Sky Sports: “The atmosphere here is just amazing. They support me a lot.
“I’m proud to play well here. If I can (win) another time I will, of course.”
Earlier in the day, last year’s Wimbledon runner-up Berdych beat Fernando Verdasco 6-3 7-5.
The fifth-seeded Czech will now face either Alex Bogomolov or Janko Tipsarevic, another of the Tour Finals hopefuls.
Like Tsonga, Berdych knows victory on Thursday will book his London berth.
Three places in the field for the prestigious O2 Arena field remain up for grabs.
Currently Berdych, Tsonga and Mardy Fish lead the race for them and all three will qualify if they reach the quarter-finals in Paris.
Andy Roddick has been a regular in the season’s finale over the years but he won’t be in London this year following a disappointing season.
However, he got his Paris campaign off to a good start with a 6-4 6-4 victory over Frenchman Julien Benneteau.
Meanwhile, Ivan Dodig set up a meeting wth Novak Djokovic by beating Italy’s Fabio Fognini 4-6 6-1 6-3 in the first round.
The Croatian is now scheduled to meet the world number one on Wednesday but Djokovic, who was struggling with a shoulder problem when beaten in the Basel semi-finals by Kei Nishikori at the weekend, has yet to make a final decision on whether to play or not.
Marathon man John Isner, famous for his 11-hour clash at last year’s Wimbledon, had another lengthy encounter before moving into round two.
Isner edged past Stanislas Wawrinka 6-7 (3/7) 7-5 7-6 (7/5) in two hours and 56 minutes, coming from a break of serve down in the decider and completing victory with a second-serve ace – his 20th of the match.
Juan Monaco, Sergiy Stakhovsky, who beat Nishikori, and Feliciano Lopez also won first-round matches on Tuesday, while home hope Jeremy Chardy progressed when last week’s champion inValencia, Marcel Granollers, retired after losing the set.
Chardy will play Briton Andy Murray in the second round on Wednesday.