• Tsonga battles Ljubicic for Metz title

    9/24/11 11:17 PM | Ricky Dimon
    Tsonga battles Ljubicic for Metz title Jo-Wilfried Tsonga is looking for his first title of the season as he goes up against Ivan Ljubicic on Sunday in Metz. Ljubicic is looking for his second career title at this event.

    Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Ivan Ljubicic will be squaring off for the sixth time in their careers when they battle in the Moselle Open final on Sunday afternoon.

    Interestingly, all five of their previous encounters have come since 2009. Ljubicic leads the overall head-to-head series 3-2, but he won twice on clay and Tsonga owns a 2-1 edge on hard courts. Tsonga prevailed 6-4, 7-6(6) earlier this season on the indoor hard courts of Rotterdam before Ljubicic got revenge with a 7-6(2), 6-4 victory at the Monte-Carlo Masters.

    Tsonga is looking to highlight what has been a stellar 2011 campaign with a title. The 10th-ranked Frenchman has finished runner-up twice (Rotterdam and Queen's Club) while compiling a 40-18 record. He has followed up a quarterfinal showing at the U.S. Open with victories this week over Mathieu Rodrigues, Nicolas Mahut, and Alexandr Dolgopolov.

    While Tsonga has played great tennis all year, Ljubicic is just now rounding into form. The 32-year-old Croat played sparingly this summer, won just a single match on U.S. hard courts, and went into Metz with a modest 18-15 record for the season. So far, however, Ljubicic has taken out Nicolas Renavand, Igor Sijsling, and Gilles Muller without dropping a single set.

    Tsonga is bidding for his sixth career ATP title in his ninth final appearance. Ljubicic, the 2005 Metz champion, has won 10 titles in his lengthy ATP career--including most recently at the Indian Wells Masters in 2010.

    This will be a huge-serving, hard-hitting contest with breaks sure to come at a premium. The result will likely come down to first-serve percentages and break-point conversions. Based on current form and home-court advantage, Tsonga in three right sets is the pick.

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