After a wild week high on drama, things settled down considerably on Saturday at the semifinals in Toronto. JW Tsonga got things rolling early pounding a flat Grigor Dimitrov 6-4, 6-3 to reach his third Tennis Masters final.
Tsonga, who won Paris in 2008, has caught fire this week knocking out Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray and now Dimitrov in succession. Right now he’s playing like a freight train and I’m not sure you want to be in his way.
“I’m feeling good,” said Tsonga who hasn’t won a title in 18 months. “I have been waiting for this moment for a couple of years now.
“It’s good because I have always believed in myself during all these years,” added Tsonga. “It will for sure make me stronger and keep my motivation at the highest level.”
Dimitrov spent three hours on court a day earlier beating Kevin Anderson. And also played previous three setters against Donald Young and Tommy Robredo, so it’s understandable if the 23-year-old maybe wasn’t up to snuff, but he didn’t use it as an excuse.
“It’s not an easy loss for me considering that I had played such a good match yesterday,” said Dimitrov. “I thought he played a good match, but I think I didn’t raise the bar.
“Still, I have to take the positive side of the week. Coming to Cincinnati I feel quite good. I don’t put my head down for a second here, because it’s good progress for me. But I’m still disappointed with the loss. I’m not going to hide that. I have to think positive.”
In the evening it was the blowout we expected. Roger Federer jumped out early on Feliciano Lopez and never was threatened in a routine 6-3, 6-4 win over the lefty he has now beaten 11 straight times.
“From my standpoint, I think I served well,” said Federer. “I was aggressive, and I was able to really play the way I wanted to play tonight. I’m very happy.”
After a string of night matches, Federer will now have to adjust to the sun in the final against Tsonga. Roger of course holds the lead on JW 11-4 but this is a super dangerous match.
When Tsonga is playing like he is, the match is more often than not on his racquet. I said that was the case against Murray and I’ll say it here again. If Tsonga continues to redline he’ll beat Roger. And Roger knows it.
“[Tsonga] can overpower guys, serve up a storm and then play really aggressive with his forehand and also be solid in his backhand,” Federer said. “You think you’re in a safe place in the rally, and he takes one step and just hits it and the point is over. That’s why he’s been in the Top 10 for so long.”
Playing for one of the biggest titles of his career, I think Tsonga will finally feel some nerves tomorrow and will let down late in the match. Maybe hit a double or miss a sitter allowing Roger to sneak out another Masters title.
Federer will also feel those same nerves – what an opportunity in front of him to pick up precious ranking points and a third Canadian Open. He’s also owned Tsonga of late (though he’s lost twice to him in Montreal) and I just think at 33 he just needs this win more. There’s perhaps more urgency.
That said, Tsonga’s been by far the better player this week. In every department. He’s also use to playing under in the daylight, use to playing someone like Federer (he just beat Baby Fed!) and we know he’s fearless.
And honestly Federer has looked rather wobbly at times this week. The serve comes and goes, the backhand’s been flaky and we’ve seen the shanks creep in.
Still, my gut and logic tells me Tsonga but I’ll go with the heart here.
The pick: Federer in three (7-6 in the third maybe?)
In the women’s final, a resurgent Venus Williams outlasted sister Serena in a pretty good match today in Montreal 6-7(2), 6-2, 6-3 in just over two hours.
“The level of game we played was pretty high,” Venus said. “We’re both serving well, returning well, moving well – everything is happening so well that all of our matches seem to be very competitive.”
After consecutive three setters I would not have liked Venus’s chances against Serena who had dominated that sibling rivalry winning the last five. But credit to Venus who showed a lot of grit to get into her first Canadian final where she’ll meet Agnieszka Radwanska, a straight set winner this evening over Ekatarina Makarova.
“I think Venus is really on fire right now,” Radwanska said after reaching her first Canadian final as well. “I watched her today, and a couple of days ago as well, and I think she’s playing amazing this week. It’s not gonna be easy, for sure.
“But it’s the final, we’ll both be fighting, and we’ll see what happens!”
I’ll go “old” here as well and take Venus in three sets.
ESPN has coverage of the women’s final at 1pm then the men’s at 3pm.
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