Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Tomas Berdych faced each other for the first time in a final in four years in Lyon.
Tsonga experienced one of his best starts to a year in 2017, winning two of his first five tournaments and reaching at least the quarterfinals in the other three. Things took an unexpected turn after that run as injury slowed the Frenchman’s progress and on-court time. With the French Open looming, Tsonga entered the inaugural clay-court tournament as the No. 2 seed.
His opponent in the championship match would be the No. 3 seed Berdych. The Czech, who took a wild card into the tournament, came into the event with a 6-3 mark on the clay during the spring and reached his first final of the year without the loss of a set.
Quite familiar with each other on the court, Berdych and Tsonga were facing off for the third time in 2017, having split their previous two matches on hard courts. In their first clay-court encounter in two years, the two were on even ground throughout the early stages of the opening set. It was Berdych who got a first crack at gaining an advantage in the match, as he went up double set point on Tsonga’s serve at 4-5.
The Frenchman escaped, and the opener eventually went to a tiebreak. In the breaker, Tsonga raced to a 4-0 lead, going on to take it 7-2.
The second set was another close encounter, with the two players unable to make any headway on the other’s service games. At 5-6, Tsonga earned a match point on Berdych’s serve. But where Tsonga got through a similar situation in the first set, Berdych wasn’t able to pull off an escape as he double-faulted, giving Tsonga his third title of the year—and first of his career on clay.
The only players to reach a French Open semifinal before they won their first title on clay in the 2010s were Tsonga (2013, 2015) and Andy Murray (2011).
This was Berdych's fourth consecutive loss in a clay-court final, with his last title on the dirt coming in 2009.
Tsonga played for a title on home soil for the 11th time in his 26 career finals and his Lyon win brought his record to 8-3 in those matches. This title was also his first in France that wasn't won under a roof, with the others coming indoors.
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