Mannarino Upsets Tsonga On Day Three

Adrian Mannarino recorded one of the biggest wins of his career on Tuesday at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters when he beat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-7(3), 6-2, 6-3 for a place in the third round.

World No. 56 Mannarino, who won two matches in qualifying and beat Guillermo Garcia-Lopez on Monday, dictated with his potent backhand and forays to the net to improve to 2-18 lifetime against players in the Top 10 of the Emirates ATP Rankings. His only previous win over an elite player came against the then No. 8-ranked Stan Wawrinka in March 2015 at the Miami Open presented by Itau.

“It is an important victory for me, beating Jo in a big tournament,” said Mannarino. “I’m very satisfied with the match. I had the right attitude… I never expected to beat Jo. I certainly didn’t expect to beat him on clay. But I tried not to think he was on the other side of the net. I just focused on what I had to do. I tried to use my qualities the best way I could.”

Seventh seed Tsonga got off to a fine start sweeping to a 3-0 lead, but Mannarino recovered to 3-3 and, in hot conditions, the first set was decided by a tie-break. Tsonga took a 4/1 lead and finished the 52-minute opener with a forehand winner down the line. Mannarino responded to surge to a 5-0 lead in the second set, leaving a capacity crowd primed for a decider.

Having saved one break point in the third game of the deciding set, Mannarino broke Tsonga to 15 for a 3-1 lead court with a cross-court backhand and volley winners. Tsonga, the 2013 and 2016 semi-finalist, continued to battle in his first match since 11 March at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells. Tsonga got back to 3-4, but broke a string when hitting a forehand at 15/40 to gift Mannarino a chance to serve for the match. The 28-year-old Mannarino was not to be denied his seventh match win of the 2017 ATP World Tour season, which lasted two hours and five minutes.

“Today was a good match,” said Tsonga. “It was good tennis. There were some parts that were not so good. But as a whole, it was a good match. I would like to congratulate my opponent. He played a really good match. He’s one of the players who are really giving it their all on the Tour. He’s improving a lot. I really want to congratulate him. He played a very good match. He was better than me today… I’ll try to come back and be better next time.”

Tsonga became a father for the first time with the birth of his son, Shugar, on 18 March, and celebrated his 32nd birthday at the Monte-Carlo Country Club on Monday. Mannarino, who told reporters he had trained for 10 days prior to coming to the Monte-Carlo Country Club, will now meet French compatriot and No. 11 seed Lucas Pouille or Italian Paolo Lorenzi.

Pouille gained safe passage past the lone American in the draw, Ryan Harrison, 6-2, 6-4 in 72 minutes. Harrison, this year’s Memphis titlist, was playing his first tournament since getting married to Lauren McHale on 31 March in Austin, Texas. Lorenzi was a 6-2, 6-4 winner over Marcel Granollers.

“It was a good start for the tournament, very solid,” said Pouille. “From the beginning to the end, I played well, except for one game where I got broken. Other than that, I’m very happy with this first round.”

Tommy Haas made a welcome return to the Monte-Carlo Country Club by beating Benoit Paire 6-2, 6-3 in 68 minutes. The oldest player in the draw, aged 39, is competing at the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournament for the first time since 2008 and notched his first win here since 2004 (d. Malisse, l. to Chela). Haas now gets a shot at ninth seed Tomas Berdych in the second round.

”I think when you go out there and compete, you hope for the best, that is to try to play well and try to win,” said Haas. “Any time that happens, obviously, at this stage for me, it’s a very nice feeling, of course. I just try to build from that. Try to get stronger physically, get more used to playing matches again, points when it counts. You can do a lot of things in practice and off court, but you cannot replicate that for match play. I’m very happy to get another chance to go out there again tomorrow and keep working on my tennis game when it counts.”

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