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Tsonga vs Albot ATP Montpellier Preview, Predictions and Live Streaming: Tsonga targets maiden Montpellier final after three previous semi-final defeats

Leye Aduloju in ATP Tour 9 Feb 2019
  • Jo-Wilfried Tsonga vs Radu Albot is live from Montpellier on Saturday, 9 February from 4:30pm local time/ 3:30pm GMT
  • Tsonga and Albot will meet for the first time on Saturday
Jo Wilfried Tsonga. (Photo by PASCAL GUYOT/AFP/Getty Images)

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga attempts to reach the Montpellier final for the first time in his career when he takes on Moldovan, Radu Albot on Saturday.

In his three previous visits to Montpellier, Tsonga made the semi-finals, but the Frenchman found that hurdle too high to cross, as he lost to Gael Monfils, Alexander Zverev and Lucas Pouille (via retirement) in 2010, 2017 and 2018 respectively.

Last season’s loss to Pouille would have been particularly hurtful, as the former world No. 5 dominated the match and had match points in the second set, but he had to retire with a hamstring problem. He did not play again for the next seven months, having undergone knee surgery in April. The 33-year-old struggled on his return to the tour in September, losing five of his six matches in the remainder of the year, but he has been in much better form since the turn of the year, opening with a semi-final in Brisbane and now, advancing to another semi in Montpellier.

He's had to work very hard this week for his last four spot, requiring three sets to take down compatriots, Ugo Humbert and Jeremy Chardy in the first round and quarter finals respectively. In between, he beat another one of his countrymen, Gilles Simon in straight sets.

In a battle between two similar players, who are heavily reliant on their serves and forehands, Tsonga and Chardy delivered an enthralling quarter final on Friday night, as both men guarded their serves with great diligence until Chardy cracked in the end. The first two sets featured no breaks of serve, with both combatants splitting the ensuing tie breaks, and the concluding set looked destined a seemingly inevitable breaker until Tsonga upped the ante in the latter half of the set.

Chardy did extremely well to fend off Tsonga's advances in the eight game of the final set, saving five break points to hold for 4-4, but Tsonga was relentless in his pursuit of the break, and piled on more pressure in Chardy's next service game. This time, break points were match points, and after Chardy saved three of them, he finally succumbed on the fourth, when failed to handle a Tsonga forehand return.

Tsonga marches on the last four, as is his wont in Montpellier, where he plays Moldova's Radu Albot.

Radu Albot. (Photo by PASCAL GUYOT/AFP/Getty Images)
Albot is into just his second tour-level semi-final, with the first also occurring on French soil, when he made the last four in Metz last year, losing to Gilles Simon. Apart from that semi-final, he made the quarter finals in New York, and reached the third round at Wimbledon in his only other notable contributions to the main tour. He had a better time on the Challenger Tour, especially towards the end of the year, winning in Liuzhou and making semi-finals in Ningbo and Pune. He finished the year just inside the top 100 at 98th, 17 spots off his career high ranking of 81st, attained in April 2017.

The 29-year-old lost to Jaume Munar in his opening match of the season in Pune, but he got off the mark for the year at the Australian Open, where he beat Michael Mmoh before falling to Fernando Verdasco in the second round. He has put together an impressive week in Montpellier, beating Philipp Kohlschreiber, Ernests Gulbis and Marcos Baghdatis, all former top-20 players, to make the last four.

Albot needed just over two and a half hours to get past Gulbis in the second round, but he had a much easier time against Baghdatis in the quarters, winning 6-2 7-6 after an hour and a half. It should have been easier too, as he served for the match at 5-4 in the second set and got to match point, but he made a complete harsh of an easy forehand on that match point, and subsequently double-faulted to give up his serve. Credit to him, he regrouped to take the set on a tie break, when he threatened a meltdown late in the set. His opponent, Baghdatis also deserves plenty of credit for completing the match, when it would have been easy to quit, as he was obviously struggling with a thigh injury throughout the contest.

Albot now goes in search of his first tour-level final when he faces home hero, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga for the first time on Saturday.

Albot's big strength is his mobility around the court, and he is comfortable anywhere in the court, but he doesn't hit the ball particularly big, which leaves him susceptible to power hitters like Tsonga. Tsonga is also a very athletic man, which should make for quite a few entertaining points on Saturday, but one can't get away from Tsonga's power, which should propel him into a first final in Montpellier.

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga vs Radu Albot is live from Montpellier on Saturday, 9 February from 4:30pm local time/ 3:30pm GMT

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Tsonga vs Albot ATP Montpellier Preview, Predictions and Live Streaming: Tsonga targets maiden Montpellier final after three previous semi-final defeats

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga takes on Moldovan, Radu Albot in the Montpellier semis on Saturday. Will Tsonga reach his first Montpellier final? Read our preview, predictions and stream the match live online.

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