Dubai: Michael Llodra opened his Dubai account as he packed off fellow countryman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 7-6, 6-2 in the final match of the first round of the Dubai Duty Free Men’s Open here late on Tuesday.
Seeded No.5 here, Tsonga joined No.6 Janko Tipsarevic as the two seeds to lose in the opening round of this tournament this year.
Tsonga - who won the Marseille Open last Sunday before travelling to Dubai - struggled to match the pace and game of Llodra before a sizeable crowd here. And then after he came for a meeting with the media, Tsonga put the blame for his defeat on a wrong call from a line judge.
“I served my first serve. My first serve was in. The line umpire said, Out. But he said, Out, after the hit. Michael give the ball back in the stands. And he said, Replay the point. The ball was good,” Tsonga complained.
“When you lose a point like that, then you start to think, and double fault and the guy is back. Then you feel like you’re already tired, but you have in your mind that you still can win and play well, but when something like this happens, it’s like if somebody has punched you, and it’s tough to get up,” he added.
This is the first time in seven appearances that Llodra has defeated Tsonga, who had gone till the quarter-finals till he fell to Juan Martin del Potro last year. “I knew it would have been a tough match as he was tired from his final in Marseille. I knew he is unbelievable as a player, but if I had to get the first set then I would have had my chances as anything could have happened in the second set,” the 31-year-old said.
Llodra, currently ranked No.67 in the world, began on an aggressive note mixing it up well with his serve and volley game before take a close first set 7-6.
In the second Tsonga was more clinical in his approach breaking in the third and then in the seventh to serve out for set and match in an hour and 19 minutes.
This is the first time-ever that Llodra has managed to get past Tsonga since their first meeting at the Marseille Open in 2009. Their last meeting was in this year’s Australian Open that Tsonga went on to win in straight sets.
“This is my style of play and I have no intentions of changing anything when I meet my next opponent [Dmitry Tursunov] on Wednesday,” he said.
“I think if I can continue playing my serve and volley game, then I stand a better chance of winning against the good players,” he added.
Result: Michael Llodra bt Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 7-6, 6-2.